Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite looks likely to get a big thumbs up from taxpayers after freezing the bills for local services for the fourth year in a row.
The decision was made at the annual budget meeting last night and means the borough’s council tax has been at the same level since 2010.
Cllr Jeremy Kite, leader of the council, said: “I see that many other councils are putting tax up this year but I think we have a responsibility to help hard-pressed families. Too many councils forget how hard it is for taxpayers to earn money in the first place and our whole council is dedicated to treating their hard-earned money with great care.
“Nor do I believe that councils need to cut services. If there are cuts to be made they should be made here at the Civic Centre and I’m pleased to say we will continue to provide our great services although we are always seeking smarter ways of working.”
The freeze means that Band D residents will continue to pay £162.90 for the fifth consecutive year. However, Dartford residents will still face an increase in their overall bill after Kent County Council (KCC) agreed a 1.9% rise – adding an extra £20 on the average bill.
Both Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent Police Authority are also increasing their share, along with parish councils.
Those in Sutton-at-Hone face one of the biggest increases at 26% - meaning households will have to pay out on average an extra £6 for the year.
The budget was passed with 29 votes for and 10 against. Labour members, despite agreeing with a council tax freeze, voted the entire budget proposal down after claiming the council needed to be more ‘open and transparent’ over the future allocation of the Identified Initiatives Reserve (IIR). This year the budget did not include a list of what the IIR had been earmarked for.
Shadow leader of the council Geoffrey Prout (Lab) called it a ‘glaring omission’. But Cllr Kite said: “This is the IIR. The clue is in the title – it is a reserve. There are areas where we need more flexibility. There is nothing suspicious about it.”