Pioneering East Hampshire District Council is again planning to set itself apart from other local authorities in the country by cutting its share of Council Tax instead of putting it up.
If approved, the 2.6% cut would be the council’s second consecutive Council Tax cut, following a 2 per cent reduction last year.
And Conservative run EHDC has also announced its commitment to a third cut for 2018/2019 which will bring its share of Council Tax down to the lowest level since 2006/2007.
The move would leave £170,000 in the pockets of the district’s Council Tax payers and is part of the council’s strategy to become financially independent.
EHDC Leader, Cllr Ferris Cowper, said: “We are proposing to reduce our Council Tax at a time when nearly all local authorities are increasing their charge by the maximum amount allowed by Government.
“East Hampshire District Council has stated its ambition to bring Council Tax down to zero and is committed to making itself free from reliance on Government grant. This latest cut, and the promise to make further tax cuts next year, backs up this commitment with positive action.
“We have shown it is possible for councils to make their own money, without increasing the tax burden on their residents and without cutting services.”
The council has been able to make the cut thanks to the success of its business strategies and its property investments.
Council departments have been marketing their services to other authorities and local organisations to bring in extra income. EHDC’s Planning Services, Community Team, Communications, Programmes, Neighbourhood Planning and the regeneration team, RegenCo, are expected to make a collective contribution approaching £1m.
The council has also bought six high-quality commercial properties since 2013 totalling £12.5m, the latest being the Iceland store on Alton High Street. These properties generate approaching £850,000 in rent every year, around £700,000 more than could be gained through interest on cash deposits.
If agreed by Cabinet on Tuesday 14 February, the proposed cut will be put forward for approval by Full Council on 23 February.
If accepted it will make EHDC’s share of Council Tax for a Band D property £131.11, down from £134.55.