COUNCIL tax will go up for the first time in eight years after councillors took a vote last night.
The Conservative majority at Fareham Borough Council agreed the authority’s share of the council tax bill should go up by 3.57 per cent this year.
The authority has frozen its portion of the council tax since 2009.
The increase will mean a Band D property in Fareham borough will pay £5 more for council services – a total of £145.22 a year.
This is in addition to other increases for other services – including a 3.99 per cent increase for Hampshire County Council, a 1.99 per cent increase for police, and a proposed 1.99 per cent increase for firefighters.
A Band D property will pay a total of £1,477.56 a year under the new rates – an overall 3.63 per cent increase.
Opposition parties did not support the budget, with the Liberal Democrats arguing the increase was too much and the council should have had smaller incremental increases in previous years.
Councillor Paul Whittle said: ‘This council has been storing up the problem for a number of years.’
He said the council had to look at other ways to generate income, such as trading services and sharing senior management with Gosport council.
Ukip’s Cllr Christopher Wood said: ‘I’m very unhappy to see such cuts from central government coming down because they can’t make their own savings.’
Leader Sean Woodward explained the government grant provided about half of the council’s funding in 2009. But annual reductions mean the £8.9m budget is now funded 70 per cent by taxpayers.
From 2018-2019 the council will receive no revenue support grant from the government and services will be paid for purely by council tax and business rates.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘In line with central government policy we have increased council tax for the first time since 2009, which considering the reductions to our funding it is a remarkable achievement to have kept council tax so low for so long and even with a £5 increase we will still have one of the lowest council tax band D charges in the country.’
To create more income, the authority has bought several properties and plans to buy the Halfords/Currys/PC World site in Southampton Road.