Residents in Band D properties to pay an extra £1.12 a week
By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
Council tax in Merton is set to increase by the maximum amount – 4.99% – that’s £1.12 a week extra for residents living in Band D properties.
The increase was agreed by the council last week and it includes a 2% adult social care precept. Last year council tax in the borough rose by 3%.
The council’s medium term financial strategy (MTFS) shows that the council is expected to have to borrow money from external sources in 2021/22.
The report states that while it could be helpful in the short-term it will not be a long-term solution. It shows that in 2021/22 the council plans on borrowing £4,453,000 and £7,581,000 the following year.
The report said: “For every £1 million capital expenditure that is funded by external borrowing it is estimated that there will be annual revenue debt charges of between £219k for assets with a life of five years to £51k for an asset life of 50 years.”
At a time when the budgets of local councils are tight, Merton is looking to make savings where it can. This includes work with primary schools focused on their ‘urgent health and safety related needs’, with £1.9m a year budgeted for this.
And for any works under £20,000, schools themselves will be expected to foot the bill.
Council leader, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said the introduction of new wheelie bins in the borough is another way to save money.
But the bins have had a mixed reception so far with some residents complaining of not having enough space while others have been subject to missed collections.
“We need savings to look after our young and old alike, we are doing that with our new waste collection service,” said Councillor Alambritis.
“The new service is saving us much needed money while leading to an increase in recycling to 40% and rising, and a decrease in 330 tonnes per month to landfill.”
He added that the budget puts Merton families first, giving the example of the new Harris Academy which is set to open in South Wimbledon.
But the opposition Tory party put forward an amendment to keep Little League football (A football league for youngsters) free, keep Wimbledon parking charges as they are and pledge £20,000 for tree planting in the borough.
Councillor Nick McClean said: “The deficit we have today has been caused by this administration’s financial mismanagement which tries to balance the books on the back of our children.
“Our amendment puts children first.” But the motion was not carried.
Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison, blamed government cuts for putting pressure on vital services.
He added: “In Merton we continue to maintain and improve services that are important to local people.
“Merton is a great place for families and tonight we present a budget for Merton’s families.
“We have been delivering a new centre for adults with learning disabilities, a new library a new leisure centre and a new secondary school.”
The budget was voted through 37 votes to 23 against.
March 14, 2019