Council tax bills to hit new highs as property company plans are hatched
- Credit: Liberal Democrats
North Norfolk residents are facing bumper council tax bills come April after the district council followed county and police authorities to push up its demand.
North Norfolk District councillors voted at a full council meeting on Wednesday to raise its precept by 3.4pc or £4.95 for a Band D property.
A highlight of the council's 2019/20 budget, also agreed at the meeting, are plans to transfer £2m from reserves to set up a property investment company to address the local housing need and build a property portfolio to make profit from rent.
The budget also includes surplus cash for a New Business Development Fund to support start-ups (£130,000), keeping public toilets open all year, except the one on Mundesley Prom (£30,000), supporting the police's Operation Moonshot number plate recognition scheme (£20,000) and £4,000 to increase opening hours at Cromer Museum.
Councillor Sarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrat, said: 'No-one takes any pleasure in raising council tax. To suggest otherwise is simply untrue. But with the size of the deficit we are facing in future years we simply cannot stick our head in the sand or try and gain political favour by taking the easy way out.'
Mrs Butikofer added: 'Our budget tonight sets out a clear direction of travel. We will set up a new property company investing in local homes for local people, whilst generating us revenue to do more.
'We will support initiatives to transport people from those homes to work and school and play.
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'We will support the budding entrepreneurs we have in our wonderful district, and create a new business start-up hub so we can support those who want to work here.'
Conservative councillors Duncan Baker and group leader John Lee led an effort to freeze the council tax level and delete or amend the surplus projects, but this was voted down.
Mr Baker called the council tax rise a 'great shame' given it was only put up once over the seven years the Tories led the council until November last year.
He said: 'They did this without cutting services. During the Conservative administration, across the council, services were both improved and enhanced. This magnificent record was achieved through sound financial management and intelligent, thoughtful planning.'
The district council's tax bill for 2019/20 for a Band D property will be £207.62 (£148.77 for the district and £58.85 for parish and town councils).
The increase means the district council will collect for £6,240,604 for itself and £2,390,634 on behalf of town and parish councils for in the 2019/20 tax year.