St Albans council issues warning over future tax hike

A FREEZE in the cost of the St Albans council element of council tax for the second year running will not be repeated next time round. Introducing the zero per cent district council tax rise for 2010/11 last Wednesday, council leader Robert Donald said he

A FREEZE in the cost of the St Albans council element of council tax for the second year running will not be repeated next time round.

Introducing the zero per cent district council tax rise for 2010/11 last Wednesday, council leader Robert Donald said he could not lead the public up the garden path by promising the same would happen next year because of the likely cut in the size of the government's grant.

But he pledged at the full St Albans council meeting that the rise would not be above the rate of inflation for 2011/12.

Both St Albans and Herts county councils have settled on no increase in their portions of the council tax this year with a 3.5 per cent rise agreed by the Herts Police Authority for its share.


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It means that local council tax-payers will face only an average 0.30 per cent increase in their council tax bills as a whole.

Cllr Donald admitted that to achieve the zero per cent increase, there would have to be cuts amounting to �1.3 million including the loss of 16 council posts.

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But he maintained it was an "unprecedented achievement" to have a zero increase for two years in a row and pledged that the quality of services would be maintained.

In terms of capital spending, work would continue on both the Westminster Lodge and London Colney leisure centre schemes, measures to reduce traffic congestion and CCTV for parishes.

But Tory group leader, Cllr Julian Daly, while broadly supportive of the budget, said he was concerned about the likely �1 million shortfall in government grant next year which could represent a 10 per cent increase in council tax.

He felt that the Lib-Dem administration was not looking ahead sufficiently to next year and asked for work to be done on that now.

Labour group leader, Cllr Roma Mills, was more critical, describing it as, "a mediocre budget". She added: "Is this a budget to help people or one which puts a spin on this administration? I do not see this as a budget in the best interests of people in the city and district."

Fellow Labour councillor, Eileen Harris, was also critical of the new Westminster Lodge scheme, questioning the need for facilities like a spa and bistro. She commented: "There is a total lack of vision. This scheme might look pretty on paper but doesn't meet the needs of our residents."

Blob* Hertsmere borough council has also pegged its council tax rise to zero this year.

It means that residents of Radlett and Shenley will pay an average of �160 a year for the services Hertsmere provides which includes parks, leisure activities, waste and recycling.

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