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Call to rethink island's huge precept rise
CALLS are being made to review Portland’s huge council tax precept increase amid questions over the original decision.
It comes as anger grows over the increase which will see Band D bills for the island’s share rise from around £14 a year to £150 – a hike of almost 1,000 per cent.
The move will generate £500,000 for Portland Town Council to spend on the island.
It was pushed through now to enable Portland to do more in the wake of local authority cuts – and because the council could be limited in how much it wants to put up the precept by next year.
A public meeting has been organised for this Monday at All Saints Church, Easton, at 7pm, so the decision can be explained.
There are claims now that a rule governing council business may have been breached at a town council meeting in December when the budget proposal was first brought to the table.
Standing order 39 says that when there are substantial increases or reductions to the budget the proposals should be adjourned until the following meeting.
After taking advice from the Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils (DAPTC), mayor Les Ames and town clerk Ian Looker have written to councillors saying the budget debate should start again in view of this alleged standing order ‘infringement’.
They suggest the process is restarted at the next (special) meeting of the council on February 5.
Coun Ames said he had been inundated with correspondence from people concerned about the increase and that councillors should ‘listen to the people’ and look at the budget again.
Mr Looker said: “There are two potential scenarios.
“The first is that we go ahead with the precept in which case councillors will explain at the public meeting what has been decided.
“The second is that we act on advice from DAPTC and restart the budget process so councillors will be looking for advice at what level of precept should be set.”
The Portland Labour group said it hopes the combination of the public meeting on Monday and the council meeting on February 5 ‘will resolve that the precept be set at something more affordable to the people of the island’.
Coun Tim Munro, who put forward the proposal to put up the precept, said it was incorrect to say the standing order had been infringed as the mayor could have intervened at the meeting in December but failed to do so.
He said the order could not be applied retrospectively.
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