Council tax set 
to be finalised

Civic Centre
Civic Centre

FINAL council tax bills are set to be confirmed next week - and residents will see a small increase after both fire and police chiefs opted to raise their precepts.

Last week councillors unanimously agreed to freeze Hartlepool Borough Council’s element of the council tax, which makes up the vast majority of the bill.

But Cleveland Fire Authority and Police have both agreed rises of 1.9 per cent and 1.99 per cent respectively, which means residents will see a small rise in bills.

This year people living in a Band A property currently pay £1,119.74 but that will rise to £1,123.16 from April 1.

Meanwhile, those in Band B that currently pay £1,306.36 will see bills rise by £4 to £1,310.35, if full council confirms the final bills at a meeting next Thursday, February 28, at 7pm.

Finance chiefs say the bills will clearly show that the council has frozen its element of the bill.

The freeze means Hartlepool Borough Council is eligible for a one per cent Government grant worth £400,000 for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

A council report said: “Both the Fire and Police authorities are eligible to receive the council tax freeze grant if they determined to maintain their individual council taxes at the levels set in the current year.

“The Fire Authority set its precept with a 1.9 per cent increase in its council tax on February 15, 2013.

“The Police Authority set its precept and council tax on February 5, 2013 with an increase of 1.99 per cent.

“The council tax bills for Hartlepool residents will clearly show that Hartlepool Council froze its own tax and will show the relevant percentage increases for the Police and Fire authorities.”

At last week’s meeting councillors said they wanted to give some “respite” to residents and took the decision to freeze the council’s part of the bills.

Councillors took the decision as part of the budget process for 2013-14, which will see cuts of almost £6m and the loss of up to 34 jobs.

However, senior councillors warned it will lead to bigger cuts in future, as there is less money in the base budget.

Setting the overall council tax level is a statutory requirement and final bills will be confirmed next week.

Work on the 2014-15 budget, which needs to save a further £8.5m, wil l start soon and finance officers have warned there will be a “significant” amount of jobs lost in future.

The Full Council meeting will take place in the council chamber at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.