At this time of year it is known that miracles have happened. The birth of a child at an inn is one such case. Wise men have traveled from the East bearing gifts. Shepherds have witnessed a bright star in fields where their flocks were pastured.
It was we the Shepway Vox Team who first reported we have the highest Council tax in Kent. That aside and fast forward some 2000 years, we the residents of Folkestone & Hythe District need another miracle if we are not to have the highest council tax of any Council in Kent, for the twentieth year in a row.
On the 23 Dec 2022, Folkestone & Hythe District Council published their consultation on next year’s budget 2023/24. In the announcement it states:
The original proposals had been worked out on a proposed 1.99% increase in F&HDC’s share of the council tax, however the Government has recently advised councils as part of the Provisional Local Government Settlement that council tax for District Councils can be raised to 2.99% without need for a referendum.
On 14 Dec 2022, Report Number C/XX/XX went before Cabinet. It forecast a yearly deficit of £4.2m – £5m annually for the next four years with a cumulative deficit of £18.5m by 2026/27.
However, since the Cabinet report, the deficit for 2023/24 has been reduced by £2,245,402, according to Report number C/22/77; which will go before the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Sub-Committee – Tuesday, 10th January, 2023. The reduction has come about for three reasons
1 The increase allowed for Council Tax
2 Local Government Settlement Agreement
3 Changes to the amounts FHDC will pay into KCC Pension Fund
The Council still need to save £2m in 2023/24, but from what budget’s do they cut without affecting their statutory and frontline services?
But it is not all about cutting budgets as the Council can raise income as well due to a variety of legislation.
In 2023/24, the Council propose spending £19m spend on services at the full council meeting on 22 February 2023. The services include maintaining parks and gardens, providing social housing, keeping streets clean, emptying bins and dealing with planning applications, for example.
If you wish to comment on the Council budget consultation, then you can do so by clicking this link here, Read the papers then make your suggestions on how the council might lower that deficit for 2023/24 by a further £2m, but without charging residents more.
If there are any miracle workers out there recently made redundant, now’s your opportunity to show us what you can do.
Our starter for ten on helping to lower that deficit are:
Save money on computer software: Use open source software.
Stop providing free food and drink for meetings
Cut spending on consultants and agency staff
Stop the scope for procurement fraud
Tackle duplicate payments
Stop all spending on Princes Parade.
The consultation is open until 4pm on Wednesday 1 February 2023.
If you have any ideas please do put them forward, because we need a miracle to stop our Council tax being the highest in Kent, for the twentieth year in a row.
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