A decision on the level of council tax payable across rural Dorset will be taken in February next year – two months before the new Dorset Council comes into being.

A Task and Finish group to look at council tax across the new authority’s area identified five different ways in which council tax could be harmonised over a period of up to five years.

The group say that the preferred solution would be to harmonise in one year so that everyone in Dorset paid the same amount for their band.

A report going before councillors today (Tues) concludes: “This would be simpler to explain to people and simpler to administer.  The Joint Committee agreed this would be its preferred solution when it met in March, although it noted decisions on the level of council tax would be taken in February 2019, as part of the budget for 2019/20.”

It has been reported that some of the current council areas might pay less as a result of the changes, others more – but until the level is set, the actual gains or losses cannot be worked out.

Currently, households pay several elements of their annual council tax - including a percentage to the county council, district or borough councils, police, fire and, in some cases, a parish or town council share.

After reorganisation, which comes into effect in April 2019, council tax bills will no longer show payments for district and boroughs because these second-tier councils will disappear with their work, and their share of the council tax, largely passed over to the new Dorset Council.

Some town residents in rural Dorset may see an increase at the time of the changeover in the share of council tax going to them. Both Dorchester Town Council and Bridport Town Council are among those bidding to take over some services currently run at district level.

A new town council looks also set to be created in Weymouth.