The Oundle Town Council announced a 7.3% increase in the town’s council tax precept for the 2020-21 budget.
Oundle’s precept increased by 2% last year, following annual increases of 11.9%, 9.5%, 8.6% and 10.5%. Since 2014, the council tax for an E band property in Oundle has increased from £1880 to £2408. Oundle has the highest council tax rate in East Northamptonshire.
East Northamptonshire Council agreed to increase its share by 3.5%, adding £5 to the average household’s bill.
Nationally, parish councils have increased their council tax income by more than a third since 2015-16. Larger councils can only increase bills by 2.99% plus a further 2% if they provide social care.
District councils were allowed an increase of either 2.99% or £5 on their share. Parish councils do not have a cap.
In a December meeting’s debate about the town’s precept, Councillor David Chapple cautioned that the council has to be careful about what it spends, but that he is “proud of the record of this
The council has worked to reduce expenditure, in particular, subsidies for The Hub, but without doing “anything drastically significant”, they feel there is not much that they can trim from the budget if they want to keep a reserve.
The difference between a 3% or 7% increase helps the council maintain a three months’ reserve.
Some councillors expressed concern about how long the council can expect to continue raising the precept, without affecting affordability for many residents.
Councillor David Chapple said: “This council has driven a programme of support for organisations within the town, for our buildings within the town. We try to add to the quality of life in this town, but it doesn’t come cheap.
“We’re not honestly comparing like for like when we look at the other towns in East Northamptonshire. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be careful about what we spend, or that we shouldn’t be critical about what we do.”