New homes and prudent budgeting help peg Felixstowe’s tax bills

Felixstowe Town Hall

Felixstowe Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Despite the prospect of extra cash from more housing, community leaders at Felixstowe have pegged the council tax and are not expecting to increase their spending hugely in the years ahead.

The town council has agreed a budget of £562,021 for new financial year, and thanks to a transition grant of £34,160, this will mean a precept of £522,361.

Although the precept is 2.7% higher than the current year, there will be no increase in the town council tax thanks to careful financial management and less than expected spending over the past 12 months.

It will mean a Band D tax of £67.35, to which will be added the levies of the county and district councils, and that of Suffolk Constabulary.

Councillors were told that while the transition grant was decreasing – next year it is expected to be £16,000 and the last year it is received – housebuilding at the resort, including the Martello Park development, new homes coming on stream at the Bartlet Hospital and with development of the Waverley Hotel and McCarthy and Stone sites, more council tax was being generated for the town.

Permission has also been granted for 190 homes on farmland at Walton Green South, off Walton High Street, and a further 200 at Ferry Road, Old Felixstowe. Up to 300 more could be built at Walton Green North.

From April, there would also be the chance of receiving receipts from the new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) where developers will pay a set fee for every house they build.

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However, the council’s projected spending was set to increase over the next three years and even with the extra cash that might come in, the council would need to be prudent to avoid council tax increases. Current forecasts suggest that inflation of 3%, which would increase spending by around £20,000 a year, would mean tax increases of more than 4% even with increased income.

Councillor Andy Smith said the financial position was not likely to improve much in the years ahead – all those in public life knew that funds were being cut and this trend was likely to continue.

The council will get 15% of the CIL – rising to 25% if it has a Neighbourhood Plan in place – though what this can be spent on may be restricted.

Mr Smith said: “This money will provide for infrastructure but at the moment it is very unclear how it will work. It starts in April but we are unlikely to see any money until later in the year and we cannot put a figure in the budget at this stage.”

Mayor Graham Newman said while the money would be useful the yield per house would be low and would not pay for as much infrastructure as needed or expected in many cases.