Council tax in Fareham to go up as authority faces £1.5m shortfall

Fareham Borough Council offices in Civic Offices, Civic Way.Fareham Borough Council offices in Civic Offices, Civic Way.
Fareham Borough Council offices in Civic Offices, Civic Way. | JPIMedia
COUNCIL tax is set to go up in Fareham as councillors scramble to cover a £1.5m budget shortfall.

All homes are set to be hit by the increase, which works out a £5 hike for band D properties, meaning owners now face a bill of £165.22.

The increase was agreed at a meeting on Friday February 21.

All 50,474 properties within the borough will see a 3.12 per cent increase on their payments to Fareham Borough Council.

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Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council,  said the tax rise was due to a cut in government funding.Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council,  said the tax rise was due to a cut in government funding.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said the tax rise was due to a cut in government funding. | JPIMedia Resell

The properties will incur a 3.95 per cent rise on their total council tax, which also includes the precept from Hampshire County Council, the police and crime commissioner and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The increase is hoped to bring in more than £100,000. The council faces using some of its surplus reserves to fill a projected £1.5m shortfall over the next three years.

The council had ‘no option’ but to increase council tax due to government funding cuts, authority leader Councillor Sean Woodward said

He said: ‘The reduction in government funding has given the council no option but to increase council tax charges.

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‘This very modest increase of just 1p per day for the average home will enable the council to continue to give residents the high level of service they expect.’

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Last year, council tax increased with a Band D property seeing a £5 a year increase – the third year in a row that their bill rose above inflation.

The latest hike comes as the council sits on a reserve of £5.5m, more than £3m over the minimum required.

Despite the reserves, there were ‘risks’ elsewhere in the budget, according to Cllr Roger Price, Fareham Lib Dem opposition group leader.

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He said: ‘We have said for a number of years in our budget speeches that we are concerned about the council’s policy of investing in property and the risks attached to this.

‘We noted with concern that the council’s retail property portfolio has dropped in value from £28.5m to £26.85m.

‘Our capital programme relies a large extent on community infrastructure levy – CIL – and with the problem of nitrates, we are not getting any substantial money receipts because of no large house building taking place.’

Cllr Price proposed using reserves to plant an additional 500 trees across the borough in the winter, but the amendment was not carried with 18 councillors against and eight in favour.

The vote on council tax was carried with 24 councillors in favour, and two against.