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Thursday, 25 April 2019
HENLEY Town Council is set to increase its share of council tax by three per cent.
Members of the ruling Henley Residents Group said this would help plug a £66,000 deficit in the budget for 2019-20.
But opposition Conservative councillors said raising the tax should only be used as the “last resort”.
The council’s finance strategy and management committee decided by five votes to four to recommend that the precept is increased broadly in line with inflation from April 1.
Councillor Jane Smewing (HRG) said: “It’s necessary that we make this increase. If you can find other income or savings then fine, but I don’t think that’s feasible.”
Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak (HRG) said: “Apparently, austerity is ending so staff costs may rise by two per cent or more.
“We’ve also taken on some large projects that may incur staffing costs. After those projects are realised the council will hopefully be in receipt of large amounts of money.
“There is a deficit and a three per cent increase is £2.88. It’s a very small increase for all the facilities we provide.”
Mayor Glen Lambert (HRG) said that not increasing the precept in line with inflation was “essentially a tax cut”.
Deputy mayor Ken Arlett (HRG) said South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council were likely to increase their precepts too.
Councillor Will Hamilton (Con) said: “It’s the wrong way to do the budget. We are currently looking at a deficit and should be looking to see where we can tighten the belt to have less of one.
“We should be looking at a zero per cent increase.”
The budget and tax precept will be decided by the full council in the new year.
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