COUNCILS around the country are considering how they will meet the growing gap between government funding and the cost of services, including raising council tax.
Would Islanders support such a rise? That is the question at the heart of a poll launched by the Isle of Wight County Press today (Tuesday).
As the Isle of Wight Council faces the worst budget crisis in its history, almost every non-statutory service it provides is under threat.
Public services — including libraries and leisure centres, parks and playgrounds, allotments, harbours, public toilets and school crossing patrols — look set to be farmed out to parish councils or community groups, drastically scaled back or axed altogether.
Following increasingly savage funding cuts from central government, growing demand on services and little scope to raise income, the council is facing a black hole in its budget of £28 million over the next three years.
Local authorities that want to raise council tax face two financial penalties.
They will lose out on a council tax freeze grant from central government, worth around £729,000 to the Isle of Wight Council and, if they increase it above a government-set threshold, they must hold a referendum, which would cost around £150,000.
£ The net income from raising council tax by two per cent — the current referendum threshold — would be around £526,000 a year.
£ A five per cent increase, which would require a referendum, would be £2.2 million.
£ A ten per cent increase would raise £5.3 million.
The current annual council tax bill for a Band D property is £1,289.80 a year. A five per cent increase would raise it to £1,354.29, which equates to £64.48 a year, or £1.24 a week. A ten per cent raise would take it to £1,418.78, an increase of £128.96 a year, or £2.48 a week.
•Do you think town and parish councils should raise their precepts to take on services the cash-strapped council can no longer afford to provide?
The Independent-led Isle of Wight Council has suggested town and parish councils could raise their precept by around 40p a week and pool the extra cash to create a general fund, which could then be used to pay for services.
Share your views by taking part in the poll below and commenting on this story.
The poll closes at 11am on Thursday and the results will be published in this week’s County Press.