An amendment from the Labour group to increase Council Tax by 2.7% – an increase of £4.99 a year for those in Band D properties – was lost with 19 votes against the amendment and 14 in favour of it. The original proposal to freeze Council Tax was then passed with 18 votes in favour and 15 votes against.
The council needed to find a total £3.1m of savings to balance the budget at a time when there is increased demand on services.
Of that figure £1.1m is due to the need for capital improvements to the council’s assets and investment in ICT and council transformation plans and the remaining £2m is from the cost of providing services.
In order to meet the future needs of residents and businesses, the council has an ambitious growth and investment strategy as well as a challenging transformation programme to redesign processes and make more services accessible online.
The budget shortfall is mainly due to the continued cuts in Central Government grants, which have dropped from £10.366m in 2010/11 to £3.638m in 2019/20 – a reduction of 65%.
The majority of savings will be achieved through the council’s Transformation Plan, flexible use of capital receipts, returns on investments, the streamlining of services, a senior management restructure, workforce reductions and reserves.
Fees and charges were approved with any increases in line with inflation (2%) or to reflect the cost of the service.
The council’s Capital Programme includes £55m, which is being used to purchase further properties to generate additional income through rent to replace some of the lost government funding and help to balance the council’s overall budget.
Presenting the budget, Cllr Roger Sutcliffe, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Mansfield Independent Forum member, thanked all those who had contributed to the budget.
Cllr Sutcliffe said: “We are pleased that the council’s will was to agree the budget for 2019/20. Whilst there was appreciation from all that there are significant challenges facing the authority from cuts to government funding, we have continued to vote for no increase in Council Tax.”
Cllr Amanda Fisher proposed the defeated amendment to increase Council Tax by 2.7%.
Seconding the amendment the Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Sonya Ward, said any increase would be used to reduce the impact of Government cuts on the people within the community.
She said: “An increase of 6 pence a week, or £3 a year for Band A properties, would create a safer and cleaner Mansfield. This is about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.”
The Council Tax freeze means that Band D properties in the district will continue to pay £184.72 a year for Mansfield District Council’s services. This does not include contributions to Nottinghamshire County Council, Police, Fire Service and, for Warsop residents, Warsop Parish Council. The total Council Tax bill will be confirmed on 5 March.