Rate Announcement for 2014/15
Please see below for his speech:-
"The past year has proved challenging for local authorities with some significant changes already being implemented in how services are provided, with further change on the horizon as the review of the scope of government progresses. The unavoidable consequence is a transfer of costs from the taxpayer to the ratepayer as central government seeks to balance its books.
The redistribution of cost is no more apparent than in the waste disposal charges from the Energy from Waste plant (“EfW”) as the central government subsidy on the gate fee is removed. Of the 15 pence increase in this year’s rate, 12 pence alone can be attributed to this whilst a further 2 pence can be attributed to increased rents being proposed by the Department of Infrastructure at the Eastern Civic Amenity site. The expenditure increase after excluding waste charges therefore amounts to 1 pence on a cost of 254 pence, or less than 0.5%. The total increase of 15 pence amounts to approximately £23 per annum for the average household in the district.
It is notable that whilst the waste disposal/amenity site costs have increased by 22 pence over the previous two years, Onchan’s rates have risen by 19 pence in comparison whilst also decreasing our income deficit significantly. This has been achieved by a continual review of our costs and looking for savings without compromising our services. The Board of Commissioners has tasked the executive staff with achieving further savings and efficiencies and on a wider level we are also continuing to engage with other local authorities, exploring areas where working relationships can be developed to produce additional savings. That being said, the reality is that we expect rate increases to be elevated for some time. Our current forward assessment is that the increases in waste disposal charges alone will represent between 12 and 14 pence per annum for the next 4 years or approximately 4.5% on the rate per annum.
Whilst the outlook is challenging, the Commissioners continue to try and sensibly improve and invest in the village. This year saw new playground equipment installed in Onchan Park, significant investment in new street lighting around the district and in 2014 we also expect to complete our long term project renovating the social housing stock with the completion of Phase 3 of the project in Nursery Avenue. We have also commenced a project to create much needed social housing units on the site of the old Police Station in the village, are in the process of purchasing land in Marion Road for a further scheme and are investigating other possible sites. The housing budget sits outside of the rates budget but represents a major part of our activities. It is pleasing to note that we continue to run without a deficit on our general housing stock and rate and rent collection remains high in spite of financial pressures faced by all. Whilst the commercial lettings sector is also depressed we are pleased that we have been able to find tenants for a number of our vacant commercial units during the year and will shortly be at 100% occupancy. This has assisted the authority as the extra income contributes to the rates to help meet our annual expenditure.
The overall projected result for the financial year is a deficit of approximately £180,000 compared to the budgeted deficit of £77,250. This includes additional expenditure of £17,300 on a new vehicle which was budgeted for in 2012-13 but received this year and £143,500 for the new Playground. These have effectively been funded from brought forward reserves and once they have been removed the deficit is less than we budgeted for.
The Commissioners remain committed to taking a realistic and prudent approach to their finances in these difficult times ensuring that we continue to provide value for money services for the ratepayer and community. I therefore propose of a rate of 290p for the financial year 2014-2015.”.