To consider the report Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources presenting the revised 2017 / 18 and original 2018 / 19 and future years General Fund Revenue Budget estimate and the Capital Programme for consideration and recommendation to the Council. The report also detailed the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement announced by the Government in December 2017. Members’ consideration was also sought on the proposed council tax increase for 2018 / 19 and the policy for the use of Reserves.
The report and associated appendices to the report outlined the following:
· the latest information on the provisional Local Government finance settlement 2018 / 19;
· revised General Fund revenue budget estimates 2017 / 18;
· General Fund revenue budget estimates 2018 / 19;
· budget growth, savings and income generation in 2018 / 19;
· Essex Region business rates pool to which no changes to the Pool membership had been notified;
· an update on interest on investments;
· the Council Tax requirement for 2018 / 19;
· General Fund balance and revenue reserves;
· risks to the Council’s financial position;
· the tax-base position;
· the Collection Fund surpluses / deficit position;
· an update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) to reflect the latest revenue budget position and indicated levels of Council Tax.
Revenue Growth Bids
The Director of Customers and Community drew Members’ attention to Appendix 4 of the report, in particular the business food and music event and the work done by Officers in relation to this. Members’ were advised that the budget requested should be revised to £8,000.
In response to a question, the Director of Resources advised that as computers were replaced within the authority they would be installed with Windows 10 and therefore this would be a gradual update across the Council.
In respect of the pay award for 2018 / 19, the Director of Resources advised that the employer group had put forward 2% which had not been accepted by the Trade Unions. It was noted that the Council had a local agreement which mirrored the National Joint Council pay award.
Councillor J P F Archer left the meeting at this point.
When presenting the budget estimates the Director of Resources advised that the New Homes Bonus was not now seen as a sustainable stream of funding and therefore being gradually removed from the core budget.
There was some discussion regarding staff sickness and the costs relating to this.
The Director of Resources presented the report and Members were advised that the figures could still change as the final settlement (from the Government) had not yet been received.
Councillor M F L Durham proposed that option 1, a 2.99% increase in Council Tax be agreed. This proposal was duly seconded.
The Director of Resources referred to her report as Section 151 Officer, in accordance with Section 15 of the 2003 Local Government Act, on the robustness of the budget and adequacy of reserves attached at Appendix 7 to the report.
The Chairman then put recommendations (i) (a) & (b)a and (ii) (c) to the Committee which upon a vote being taken were agreed.
The Chairman put the proposition in the name of Councillor Fluker for a Council Tax increase of 2.99%. Prior to a vote and in accordance with Procedure Rule No. 13 (3) Councillor M F L Durham requested a recorded vote. This was duly seconded.
For the recommendation (2.99% Council Tax increase):
Councillors Mrs B F Acevedo, B S Beale, M F L Durham, A S Fluker and Rev. A E J Shrimpton.
Against the recommendation:
Councillors I E Dobson and Miss M R Lewis. Councillor Miss Lewis advised that she did not feel that she had enough information at this stage and felt it important that she made an informed decision.
The Chairman then put recommendations (ii)(e) & (f) and (iii) to the Committee which upon a vote being taken were agreed.
(i) that the Committee notes the main details of the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2018 / 19 described in section 3.3 of the report;
(ii) that a pay award in line with national recommendations is approved of 2% for both 2018 / 19 and 2019 / 20.
(iii) that the Summary Revised 2017 / 18 and Original 2018 / 19 General Fund Revenue Budget Estimates (APPENDICES 6, 7 and 8 to these Minutes) be approved;
(iv) that an average Band D council tax of £192.97 (excluding parish precepts) (2.99% increase) for 2018 / 19 (APPENDIX 6 to the Minutes);
(v) that the policies on the designated use of financial reserves (APPENDIX 9 to these Minutes) be agreed;
(vi) that an increase in the minimum general fund working balance from £2,500,000 to £2,600,000 for 2018 / 19 be approved;
(vii) that the Council gives due regard to the Director of Resources statement on the robustness of budgets and adequacy of reserves in APPENDIX 10 to these Minutes.