Merton’s council tax is set to rise by 6.2 per cent after the budget was provisionally agreed for the next financial year last night.
If full council approves the budget on 3 March, the bill for band D households for council services will rise just over £4 a month from £908.50 to £965.16, before the precept added by the Greater London Authority.
Merton’s council tax rise contrasts favourably to outer London neighbours who have announced predicted increases of 7.3 per cent (Croydon), 7.9 per cent (Sutton) and 6.98 per cent (Kingston).
Councillor Andrew Judge, Leader of the Council said: We initially kicked off the budget process in January with a predicted 7.5 per cent rise. However, we have continued to work through our rigorous budget process and identified further savings and increases in income to enable us to reduce the increase to 6.2%. This meets our public target to set a council tax no higher than the middle of outer London boroughs.
He continued: “The council’s annual resident survey revealed residents top concern was increase in council tax. We have taken this concern on board and have kept any increases in council tax to a minimum while listening to our residents needs and investing money in services they want to see improved.”
Note to Editors: A leaflet explaining how to apply for council tax reductions will be sent out with every council tax bill. In addition, Merton’s community magazine, My Merton will include a double-page feature to explain the council tax breakdown.
Example of growth and savings for budget 2004/5
· £140,000 investment to restore a stronger presence of park rangers in Merton’s parks from April 2004. Rangers provide a valuable source of information and a sense of security for visitors to parks.
· £171,000 investment in the neighbourhood wardens scheme to maintain community safety.
· A four per cent increase in schools’ budgets for each pupil. The council is following the Government’s budget recommendations for schools so they won’t have any shortfall.
· £300,000 increase in budget to introduce patch working for street cleaning.
· £75,000 to tackle fly-tipping.
· £75,000 to tackle abandoned cars.
· Funding for ten extra permanent staff for Merton Link. This will improve contact centre service levels.
· £98,000 increase in the libraries media fund to provide improved stocks of books, videos and CDs for both adults and children.
· £290,000 funding for the Recycle from Home scheme.
· £50,000 to fund a s