Cabinet were asked to consider and formally recommend the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme for 2019/20 to enable the Council to set the Council Tax for the forthcoming year.
The report provided an update on the draft revenue budget report that had been presented to Cabinet in December, including the movements that had taken place since then. The report before Cabinet set out the final revenue budget proposals for 2019/20 following extensive work carried out by Budget Holders and Cabinet Members.
The report outlined details of the main changes to the 2019/20 provisional Local Government Finance Settlement from Central Government and importantly the Revenue Support Grant and Baseline Funding (the guaranteed element of Business Rates) contained therein.
It was noted that the final budget recommended a nil increase in Council Tax resulting in the average Band D property remaining the same as 2018/19 at £136.99.
The responses to the recommendations of the Budget Task and Finish Group had been circulated as an appendix to the budget item. Councillor A Collingwood, the Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group commented on the findings of the Budget Task and Finish Group’s review of the budget position.
The Cabinet Member for Planning thanked the public for the correspondence that he had received in relation to the River Wye. In relation to recommendation 2 of the Budget Task and Finish Group recommendations, he explained that for Phase 7 of the Masterplan to be delivered from the specified Strategic Land Acquisition/Infrastructure funding source an updated business case, including costs and key milestones would need to be considered by Cabinet. In summing up, he confirmed that there was still a significant amount of work that needed to be undertaken and that opening if the river was not a given.
During consideration of the Budget Task and Finish Group’s recommendations, Cabinet had agreed nine of the recommendations, with the remaining recommendations having been noted as set out in the report.
Cabinet thanked the Task and Finish Group and officers for all their hard work. The Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group then thanked officers and Cabinet Members for their help and co-operation during the process. The Cabinet Member for Finance also expressed his thanks to the Head of Finance and his team for all their hard work.
The following recommendations were made as the Council had a statutory requirement to set a balanced budget for 2019/20 and the report formed a key part of the budget setting process by setting out the likely Revenue expenditure for that year recommending to Council the proposed budget for 2019/20 and the associated Council Tax level.
Recommended: That (i) the Council Tax requirement for the Council of £9,467k for 2019/20 be set;
(ii) the base estimates for 2019/20 as shown in Table 2, with further details in Appendices A & B of the report be approved;
(iii) the Fees and Charges schedules for 2019/20 in Appendices C & D (Part 2) be approved;
(iv) the Repairs and Renewals fund programme for 2019/20 of £633k in Appendix E of the report be approved;
(v) the Higginson Park Trust budget for 2019/20 of £193k in Appendix F of the report be approved;
(vi) the Special Expenses revenue budgets for High Wycombe Town Committee for 2019/20 totalling £365k which will be funded from precept of £275k and reserves of £90k detailed in Appendix G of the report be approved. It was noted that the precept of £275k would generate a Band D equivalent charge of £11.82;
(vii) the Special Expenses estimate for West Wycombe closed churchyard for 2019/20 totalling £7,000, in Appendix H of the report be approved;
(viii) it be noted that the budget paper, when approved by Council, would form part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2019/20 to 2022/23, see Appendix I of the report;
(ix) the statement by the Chief Finance Officer in Appendix J of the report on the robustness of the budget estimates and level of reserves be approved;
(x) the Cabinet responses to the referral from IRC on the recommendations of the Budget Task and Finish Group be noted; and
(xi) Council Tax be maintained for a Band D property, so it would remain at £136.99 for 2019/20. All the five options for Council Tax changes in Section 6 of the report were considered before making the decision.