Councillors got an initial view of next year`s potential budget at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet on Monday 12 October 2009. Councillor Chris Whitbread Finance and Economic Development Holder outlined a cabinet committee report. He noted that despite the difficult national economic conditions, the Council remained in a relatively strong financial position compared to many other local authorities.
The report outlined concern about cuts in government funding for council services. Finance officers were preparing a budget aimed at increasing the District Council Tax by no more than 2.5 per cent, a maximum increase of £3.69 per year for an average Band D property or 7 pence per week.
Budget guidelines have been set within the terms of an updated Medium Term Financial Strategy setting out the Council`s four year financial forecasts. Income from investments and property related activities is down and not expected to recover quickly while the current economic conditions continue. This has been allowed for in the Council`s plans.
Councillor Chris Whitbread said: There is no doubt we face substantial financial challenges and will have to make savings. It will be increasingly difficult to maintain the policies we have adopted to support both our residents and our businesses when our income is reducing.
He continued: However, Epping Forest District Council is in a relatively strong financial position. We are debt-free, through good financial management over several years we have built healthy balances and reserves. Epping Forest District is a low-tax Council and we are committed to remaining so. Every year we scrutinise the draft budget. Any bids for increased spending must be carefully considered and fully justified. We will look for savings and efficiencies wherever they can be found while ensuring the continued provision of quality services to our residents.
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