Question 18/17

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Question 18/17

Q. In advance of the upcoming CGR Stage 2 consultation I have just been looking at the papers issued to the Steering Group's August meeting. I note that in the draft information sheet for electors, the forecast cost figures for the options, the figure for RDC's council tax charge is the same in both option 1 and option 2. I also note that in option 2 for a town council, the precept, appears to include devolved and residual Bexhill Special Expenses and new administration costs. It also appears to appears to include another sum for devolving additional services currently delivered and paid for by all RDC electors, (about £250k probably for public conveniences ).

However in this model, although this additional service is shown as devolved and the cost is shown as being covered by the town council precept, there has been no reduction in the RDC council tax charge. This would apparently suggest that the service is being charged for twice. It would also mean the costs for a new TC are exaggerated.

Bearing in mind your particular comments at the 3 July Cabinet meeting about honesty in information given out about a town council, have/will the figures be updated or will a clear explanation be given in the final papers to be distributed for the upcoming consultation as to why devolving a service to a separate organisation does not give a reduction in council tax. (25/08/2017)

A.  It is correct that the financial model assumes that there would be no change to the Council Tax charge made by Rother District Council. The transfer of Bexhill parks & open spaces in their entirety and Bexhill public conveniences to a Town Council would reduce the Council's revenue budget. However in setting future Council Tax levels the Council has to consider it overall financial position. Over the next three years the Council needs to make savings of at least £1.8m to offset the ending of government grant. This saving requirement is considerably in excess of any savings created from establishing a Town Council and therefore it is not be possible to reduce the Council Tax charge for the District Council.

For your information the cost of Bexhill Parks and Open Spaces recovered through Special Expenses does not represent the entire spend each year. Previously the Council has agreed that specific costs, such as provision of pitches for sport, should be a charge on the whole District. However it would not be practical for the District Council to retain these parts of the parks should a Town Council be formed.

The summary breakdown of costs used in the consultation documents is as follows:

Bexhill Parks and Open Spaces

Direct Costs net of any income from activities                         £750,000 excludes any Rother DC staffing, management and overhead costs

Public Conveniences

Based on a pro rata apportionment of direct costs                £160,000 excludes any Rother DC Staffing costs, management and overhead costs

Administration - to include Town Clerk and

day to day running costs                                                            £100,000

Total Estimated Cost                                                                £1,010,000

These figures need to be considered in the context that no decisions have been made as to what services could be devolved to a Town Council. They are to provide residents an idea of the scale that could be possible if a Town Council was formed and the impact on the amount of Council Tax they would pay. (30/08/2017)

 

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