8:00am Sunday 24th March 2013
Otley taxpayers could be about to be hit with a higher than expected hike in the local precept.
Town Councillors approved a 14.5 per cent increase, which equates to £8.10 a year for Band D households, in January.
That rise, some of which will pay for a new information centre and a revamp of town centre toilets, was blasted by Councillor Jim Spencer (Lib Dem, West Chevin) as “profligate”.
Now the council’s controlling Labour group has said that, due to “Government meddling” with council tax subsidies, the rise for Band D properties will actually be 20 per cent, an £11.57 increase.
Councillor Carl Morris (Lab, Manor) said: “These changes were outlined in a paper produced by Leeds City Council on January 16. Unfortunately, we only became aware of this after we held a meeting to set our precept.
“The properties no longer included in the council tax base will have 90 per cent of their council tax paid for them by the Government. The city council will then pass the precept element of this on to us in a grant, for £28,000.
“One option would have been to hold an emergency meeting and lower the precept level by £28,000, which would have ironed-out the anomaly.
“However, the Government has also announced it is strongly considering capping the precept raising powers of town and parish councils in future. If we were to lower the precept, we could face the possibility of being unable to raise it again in the following year.”
Coun Spencer slammed Labour for not raising the issue earlier with the full council.
He said: “If we accept that, however unlikely, the Labour Party at Leeds did not tell Labour in Otley about their plans until after the January budget meeting, it is still clear Labour has known about this since then.
“Unbelievably, this means for two months they have said nothing and stifled democratic debate until it is too late."
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