Rother grant shock
THE Government's 1.5p-per-head Rother grant increase for the coming year remains "incomprehensible" says council director of resources Joy Cooper.
Rother is joining with Hastings in challenging the Government over the draft settlement.
Rother cabinet was told on Tuesday that cuts totalling more than 62,000 will have to be made if Rother is to scrape up the Government's 5% limit on increasing Council Tax for 2007-2008 and escape being capped.
Even at the hoped-for 4.99% outcome, the Council Tax payable from April 1 on a mid-range Band D property would rise from 137.15 to 144.
This is equal to 13p a week compared with Government grant increase of only 3p per property per week.
Tuesday's budget report updated the cabinet on the effects of the draft grant settlement.
This said that under what is termed a "floor mechanism," Rother would get an increase in Government aid of just 0.17% - the lowest in East Sussex. Hastings will get 3.24%.
The director of resources says: "This settlement shows that reliance cannot be placed on the floor mechanism to guarantee an inflation-proof increase in grant...
"Clearly, Rother has received by far the worst settlement in East Sussex with Lewes (5.34%) having the greatest increase in grant."
The director says that, overall the net revenue budget is estimated to rise by 367,270 to 12,748,410.
"This is a rise of 2.9% over 2006-20007."
Councillors were told there had been "significant variations" in salaries and contract costs.
"Members have adopted through the council's financial strategy the policy that the council needs to maximise the annual increase in Council Tax within the current capping regime.
"This limits the annual increase in Council Tax to under 5%.
"... savings of 62,370 are required to bring the council back within the expected capping limit. Options for the savings will be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in January for their consideration. Given the settlement, the ability to reduce the increase in Council Tax will be severely limited unless reductions in services are achieved."
She says: "Currently, uncommitted reserves represent around 24% of the council's net spend.
"This is in excess of the minimum level allowed for in the financial strategy and would allow some uncommitted reserves to be released for invest to save projects or to fund one off growth items."
r More on this issue next week.