Dartford Council Faces Backlash for Council Tax Increase and Building Up Reserves

Dartford Council Faces Backlash for Council Tax Increase and Building Up Reserves

Dartford Council Defends Decision to Increase Council Tax

Dartford Council has faced criticism after announcing plans to raise council tax while also building up millions of pounds in reserves.

At the annual budget meeting on February 26th, the council proposed a 2% increase in council tax for the upcoming financial year. This means that the average Band D bill will now be £2,195, an increase of approximately £100 from the previous year.

Council leader Jeremy Kite defended the decision, saying that the increase is limited compared to others in the county. He also pointed out that Dartford Council currently has the lowest council tax in the county.

Kite emphasized the importance of maintaining existing levels of service and investing in social infrastructure. However, opposition leader Cllr Jonathon Hawkes accused the Tory administration of making life harder for families in the borough.

He stated, “The Conservative cost of living crisis has caused the biggest fall in living standards for Dartford families since records began.” Cllr Hawkes also criticized the decision to put £6.6 million into reserves instead of using it to fund vital services.

But Kite defended the decision, saying that it is important to have a stable reserve for the future. He stated, “Our council has financial stability when almost every other council is struggling.” He also emphasized that the council thinks long-term and plans for the future, rather than just focusing on short-term solutions.

One controversial decision at the budget meeting was the defeat of a bid by the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association (SGRA) to help fund a new community hub and sports centre. Cllr Emma Ben Moussa, who proposed the amendment, expressed frustration at the lack of investment in Swanscombe, Greenhithe, and Ebbsfleet.

But council chairman Peter Harman abstained from the vote, stating that seeking separate funding could jeopardize ongoing efforts to secure a Youth Investment Fund (YIF) grant. Kite also stated that the council is working with the SGRA to come up with a viable plan for funding the project.

Council tax is a compulsory charge on properties in England used to fund local authority services. Local authorities with social care duties can raise council tax by up to 4.99% without triggering a referendum. Dartford Council’s proposed 2% increase falls within this limit.

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