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Darlington residents face two per cent increase in council tax
DARLINGTON householders are to face a two per cent increase in their council tax bills.
The decision was made at a full meeting of Darlington Borough Council tonight (Thursday, February 28), as members also passed the authority’s medium-term financial plan (MTFP) for the coming financial year to 2016-17.
The two per cent increase comes after the council drafted an initial annual increase of three-and-a-half per cent – the maximum amount allowed under the Government’s council tax limitation scheme for 2012-13.
However, central Government reduced the limit for 2013-14 to two per cent, meaning a three-and-a-half per cent increase cannot be achieved without holding a referendum, at a cost of about £100,000.
Speaking after the meeting, leader of the council, Councillor Bill Dixon, said without the council tax increase, there would be serious problems in the future.
“We had to do it,” he said. “We cannot afford to lose up to £200 per house, per year.”
The increase means a basic council tax bill for a Band D property would be £1,215.
Despite having already made cuts worth £20m since 2010, the authority is being forced to find another £17m of savings.
Speaking at the meeting, deputy council leader Stephen Harker warned members the authority would face a “significant challenge” to provide anything over the statutory services.
Councillor Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “It is Tory ideology driving this. They want to destroy the state because they can; it is what they believe in.
“What this Government is doing to local authorities is shameful and we should not forget that.”
Conservative councillor Charles Johnson, who, with Liberal Democrat members, voted against decision to pass the MTFP, accused the Labour authority of whinging about cuts, rather than finding a solution to the problems.
He said: "Up to now we have trimmed and pared where we can on what we do, but we still have the same shape council today that we had three years ago.
“It is the same old Labour, same old rhetoric, same old disasters.
“We have to do better if we are to keep this democratic facility in place, and it is the governance responsibilities of the 53 councillors in this chamber which must set out a path for the future.”
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