by danielbarker on 16 February, 2018
Mayor Andy Street’s bid to impose a surcharge on council tax payers across the West Midlands has been dealt a body blow by having to defer the surcharge when he presented his budget proposals to the Board last Friday.
Just a couple of weeks ago Mayor Andy Street presented a draft budget to the Leaders of the seven Met Councils on the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board. They said then that they could not add their support to the idea of the Mayor adding further tax raising powers to the already overburdened council tax payers of the West Midlands.
So for this year at least, council tax payers will be spared having yet another tax foisted on their already hard-pressed household budgets.
The Mayor had hoped that adding the surcharge on top of Council Tax would help to pay for an expansion of his office support team and some pet projects he has to reduce congestion by making alternatives to the car more attractive.
Facing this reality check, the Mayor really had no option to concede to the pressure, knowing that he would not get the support of the majority of his cabinet.
Mayor Andy has agreed to defer the precept for 2018/19 to 2019/20. Hi put forward further proposals to find for this year only, the extra cash he needed to run his office and support a number of key projects going forward into 2018/19.
The money will come from reserves which derived from an under spend on the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, in simple terms, the pensioners bus pass. The use of reserves is not considered to be best practice as a reduction in the reserves could leave the Authority vulnerable in a crisis.
Lib.Dems. on Walsall Council are more than a little concerned at the Mayor’s choice of words. By deferring this year’s surcharge to next year does he mean he will take two bites of the cherry in 2019/20? If the Mayor wants more money to do the job he has been asked to do, he should go back ‘cap in hand’ to his friends in Tory Central Government, and argue the case for proper devolution with a proper devolved budget, not pinch more money from hard-pressed tax payers!
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