COUNCIL Tax bills across Cheshire are to rise above both the national and regional average.
The overall bill for county residents will rise by 4.4% in 2008/09, compared to an increase of 3.7% around the North West and 3.9% for England.
While the county council, fire authority and borough council – which has the lowest increase in any authority across Cheshire – have all kept their share of the bill low, the overall figure has been forced up by a whopping 17% increase from Cheshire Police Authority.
That means the bill for a typical Band D property in Ellesmere Port & Neston will be £1,413.27 a year.
Last week, the Pioneer told how the authority was to increase its share of Council Tax bills by £19.72 a year – £1.64 per month – for Band D.
On Thursday, the borough council decided on its own share of Council Tax bills when it set its budget for the coming year.
The borough collects the tax on behalf of itself, the county council and Cheshire’s fire and police authorities. An extra amount is also payable in Ince for the parish council.
Borough leader Justin Madders said the below-inflation Council Tax increase of just 2%, which won all-party support, was the lowest in Cheshire by some distance.
He said: “With increased energy costs and global economic pressures in particular conspiring to push the cost of living upwards, we felt it was important we do our best not to add to that burden too greatly.
“After some hard work identifying savings and re-deploying existing resources, we have been able to keep Council Tax rises to a minimum while at the same time protecting existing services.
“At 2% the rise is below inflation and the lowest in Cheshire and I am pleased we have managed to achieve this in what will be our final year.”
Cllr Madders (Lab, Ledsham) said the authority has also been able to commit its resources to a number of important items.
These include the design and siting of a new leisure centre to replace the EPIC and more than £150,000 for park and street scene improvements.
He added: “We are also pleased that for the first time we have been able to meet the full-year cost of the Shopmobility scheme in the borough.
“I believe the proposals strike the right balance between protecting our existing services, protecting the taxpayer and protecting the viability of the new unitary council, as do the other political parties.”