Date: 29/02/2008 Category: Finance
Medway Council once again set the lowest council tax in Kent on Tnursday (28 Feb) when members agreed a budget that will mean a Band D household paying £1041.48 next year. That figure, which does not include charges for police and fire services and additional sums required by individual parishes, is well short of the average Band D figure across the country of £1370 and reflects the council’s determination to provide value for money. “Once again Medway Council has delivered a sustainable budget that will allow us to continue investing in front-line services while limiting the impact on tax payers,” said Deputy Leader Cllr Alan Jarrett. “We have one of the lowest council tax bills in the country, but careful budgeting has allowed us to target spending on better roads, facilities for vulnerable people, bringing empty homes back into use and looking after our older residents.” The council set a net budget of £332.5m which represents in increase of £16.747m over last year’s spending figure. Council tax bills will increase by just under five per cent – the level at which the government has indicated that it will begin to ‘cap’ councils that set higher tax levels. Cllr Alan Jarrett added: “We have once again had to juggle the need to provide the best possible services while keeping the council tax rise beneath an arbitrary ceiling fixed by the government. Our historically low level of council tax means that the capping system hits Medway particularly hard and reduces our room to manoeuvre. “Despite those pressures, I am confident that careful budgeting and good use of resources means that this is another budget that will deliver the best possible value for money for the people of Medway.” Earlier this year the Audit Commission again judged Medway as giving good value for money in its annual assessment of how well councils across the country manage their resources. Over the past few months the council has closed a spending gap by finding savings of more than £8m to achieve a balanced budget for 2008/09. The budget includes: · £2m for improvements to the A228 · £6.7m for the development of Chatham centre and waterfront · £950,000 for disabled adaptation grants It shows the council spending £31m on children’s services, £73m on adult social care and other community services and £164m on education and schools in 2008/09.