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Lichfield City Council urged to make council tax ‘contingency plans’

Lichfield City Council is preparing to make “contingency plans” due to uncertainty around the setting of council tax.

Town Clerk Peter Young warned councillors ahead of a meeting on Tuesday (January 21) that they should prepare for a “worst case scenario”.

In an agenda for the meeting, Mr Young says that the District Council has already indicated that its estimated grant to parishes will see Lichfield City Council facing a 13 per cent reduction. This would lead to a 1.1 per cent rise in the tax levied by the City Council, but may not be the end of the story.

“The District Council will not make a final decision on the grant to be paid to parishes until February 24, so in effect the City Council will be setting its precept without knowing the resultant Band D tax.

“A further complication is that the Secretary of State has not yet announced whether he will use his powers to require parish councils which propose an ‘excessive’ council tax increase to hold a local referendum.”

Mr Young has warned that such a move would cost £50,000 and need to be met from the council’s coffers.

“The worst case scenario therefore is that the City Council sets its precept for 2014 with a zero increase on 2013,” he explained. “The District Council could then decide not to pass on any parish grant, and as a result the City Council Tax increases by 7.5 per cent. The Secretary of State then decides to require parishes with ‘excessive’ tax increases to hold a referendum, and the City Council, which has not increased its precept at all, ends up with a referendum and resultant costs of around £50,000.

“This scenario is admittedly remote, but the consequences would be so severe that I believe the Council should take contingency measures.”

Councillors will discuss the issue at their meeting in the Guildhall at 6.30pm on Tuesday (January 21).

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