A COMMUNITY council has defended a hike of more than 40 per cent to its precept.
Residents living in Northop have been receiving council tax bills for the new financial year which show an increase of 42.9 per cent to the community council precept – which is included in the council tax total and is used by the community council to fund local services.
Regular council tax – which makes up the lion’s share of people’s total council tax bills – will go up by three per cent from April after Flintshire Council approved the rise as part of the 2013-14 budget.
But residents in Northop have been hit with precept bills which will see an annual increase from £14 to £20 for a band D property in the area.
This is the highest rise across all 34 town and community councils although the actual figure being charged to Northop ratepayers remains one of the lowest across Flintshire.
Only Gwernaffield residents pay a smaller precept with a band D rate of just £15.67.
Mold residents face the highest charge of £51.83 for a band D.
But some Northop residents have voiced concerns about the rise, with one unnamed dweller saying she had received no explanation for the increase.
“In a period of austerity, it’s unreasonable,” she said.
However, Northop community councillor and county member Cllr Tony Sharps defended the increase, saying that although it sounded like a stark hike, it was not a large monetary figure.
“Although the percentage is high – it’s actually quite cheap,” he said.
Northop, which had previously had the cheapest community council precept in all of Flintshire, becomes the second cheapest in the county.
Cllr Sharps described the rise as “the price of a few pints of lager or cans of dogmeat”.
The increase had been passed to pay for improvements to street lighting, Cllr Sharps said.
Many of the lights are old and need upgrading before they can be adopted by Flintshire Council.
“Once the new lights are fitted, the rate will will be reduced,” Cllr Sharps said. “It’s a temporary measure.”
But he said councillors had been proud of having the lowest rates in the county and hoped to reduce rates again once the two or three-year upgrading work was complete.
Cllr Marion Bateman, one of four councillors to vote against the increase, said she had wanted to avoid a rise because of the financial pressures being felt by residents.
“The lighting does need replacing but I just didn’t think there was a need for such an increase,” she said.
“Last year we managed to do the first phase of the upgrading from the reserves – and there’s still money left.
“In my opinion, the rest of the work could have been done with just a slight increase.”