At the Full Council Meeting of Surrey Heath Borough Council on February 21, Members set the budget and Council Tax for 2018/19.
Following many years of reductions in central government funding, SHBC now receives no financial support from the Government to provide local services.
All Council services are now paid for from local income from Council Tax, Business Rates, Investments and Charges.
In fact, in the coming year, the Government is demanding £1m from Surrey Heath, exacerbating the situation further.
To avoid cutting services which residents value, Members have adopted a strategy of ‘Growth, Income and Efficiency’.
In 2016/17 the Council borrowed £130m to invest in property which included The Square shopping centre, Camberley.
These investments are now beginning to pay dividends, not only through the regeneration of the town centre, but also the £1.9m in income that these investments have provided to support services. This would equate to around a 25% increase in Council Tax.
Costs are also being reduced through new technology. We are working with other councils through shared posts, and at the start of this month the new 4-borough Joint Waste service began.
But the financial challenges the Council faces remain, driven by the Government demanding £1m from Surrey Heath, inflation and the need to fund investment in the Borough.
Members voted to increase Council Tax by just under 3% this year. This equates to a rise of £6.12 a year for a Band D property, making the Surrey Heath element of the annual charge £212.42.
Your total Council Tax bill is higher than this as it includes Surrey County Council, Surrey Police and the Parishes – Surrey Heath only keeps around 11% of the total.
Surrey Heath Finance Portfolio Holder Cllr Richard Brooks said: “As a Council we decided that we would aim to increase income rather than stop services as a response to Government cuts.
“With the assistance of our professional advisers, our investment strategy is delivering – but we know we will have to continue to evolve and innovate if we are to maintain the services our residents value into the future.”