The Council’s Cabinet, its decision-making executive, put forward a programme for 2019/20 at its meeting on 22 November and recommended an average 2.39% rise in the District Council’s element of Council Tax for the next financial year which begins on 1 April. This is in line with the inflation rate for the year to October 2018 of 2.4%.
The recommendations form part of a Corporate Plan and Budget for the five years from 2019 to 2024 that will now go before a meeting of the Full Council in December for approval.
The priority projects are:
Housing – redeveloping Wavell House into 24 flats for the over-55s and Betty Entwistle House into 40 flats for people with care needs; creating more than 80 affordable or social rent homes in three Council-owned sites; continuing a programme to improve energy efficiency at Council-owned houses and flats.
Local Plan – submitting the Local Plan that identifies land for future housing, commercial and infrastructure development.
City Centre Opportunity Site – moving ahead with plans to redevelop the southern section by building a mix of affordable, private and shared ownership homes along with commercial space and car parking.
Harpenden Leisure and Cultural Centre – progressing this £18.8 million development with the new sports centre due to open in 2020 and the cultural hub in 2021, subject to planning permission.
Enterprise Zone – delivering in partnership with other organisations the new zone for enviro-tech industries with the potential to provide up to 12,000 new jobs by 2042.
Customer Services – upgrading the Council’s website, extending the services available on the MyStAlbans digital account and undertaking reviews of key areas to seek improvements.
Car Parking – bringing management of car parks and parking enforcement back under Council control to improve the service and retain all the income generated.
The Cabinet has also recommended to Full Council a budget for 2019-23. In order to balance it, savings and income gains of £1.8 million have been identified.
Councillor Alec Campbell, the Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Resources, said: "Over the last year, we have delivered on our promise of completing a number of major projects. These include opening the outstanding new St Albans Museum and Gallery and achieving a 60%-plus recycling rate. Our Corporate Plan and Budget sets out how we intend to put our residents, businesses, visitors, voluntary groups and other customers at the centre of what we do over the next five years."
The recommended average rise of the District Council’s Council Tax precept for next year is 2.39%. For residents living in the City Neighbourhoods Committee area, the increase is 2.51% and for those outside, it is 2.25%.
As the Council’s precept is below 3%, there is no legal requirement for a referendum of Council Tax payers to endorse it.
The Council’s precept makes up around 11% of residents’ total Council tax bill. There are also precepts from Hertfordshire County Council, the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Town and Parish Councils.
The overall Council Tax bill will be settled in February next year when all the precepts are known.
Source: News release from St Albans Council