On the 24th January, Conservative controlled Stafford Borough Council (SBC) passed through the budget for the forthcoming year.
Presented to the full council by Cllr Mike Smith who is approaching the end of his final term in office, Mike was eager to thank the hard working staff of the council for continuing to help us run a financially sound local authority despite the challenging climate we find ourselves in.
The council heard that Stafford Borough had exceeded expectations in that the income from the new homes bonus, investment income and revenue from business rates were all higher than anticipated. Projecting general fund reserves of £20m in March 2023.
In addition to this, because of successful applications from Central Government from the levelling up funds, SBC has not had to dip into cash reserves to kick-start projects, which was further good news. With the Future High Streets Fund bid bringing in £21.5m, with a sizeable chunk of that fund being invested in Stone, including the Crown Wharf Theatre.
There will be a small increase to Council Tax of 1.9% which for a Band D property equates to an increase of about 6p per week. Cllr Mike Smith, said of the increase “we continue to show that we are prudent with our tax payers money, front line services remain protected and through our widening collaboration with Cannock District Council, I have every confidence moving forward that Stafford Borough Council will remain a well run and highly regarded council for being fiscally responsible, sensible with its spending and delivering a positive programme of projects to benefit residents for many years to come”.
Cllr Frances Beatty and ward member for Fulford, whilst paying tribute to Mike Smith for his years of service was able to highlight some exciting projects, “Stafford Town Centre has begun its transformation, Westbridge Park will soon have spades in the ground and our visitor economy which is the 2nd strongest in Staffordshire bettered only by Staffordshire Moorlands is continuing to be invested in to support our local businesses including retail and hospitality”.
With the full backing of the Conservative Group, it was generally accepted that the Conservatives have yet again delivered a balanced and fair budget, with Independents even endorsing it with a yes vote and Labour choosing to abstain on the vote.