Thanet council has agreed its 2017/18 budget

Thanet council wants to buy the Mill Lane multi-storey

Thanet council will buy up two isle multi-storey car parks, sell  more authority-owned property, create a housing company and launch a local lottery in a bid to raise cash in the next financial year.

The measures have been unanimously agreed by council members as part of the 2017/18 budget.

Plans to raise council tax by 2.3% have also been put forward although this is yet to be given the green light.

The rise would mean a £4.95 hike for a band D property – equivalent to 9.5p a week.

The budget figures

The budget for 2017-18 is £17.5 million. This amount will drop to £16.3 million by 2020.

It is made up of:

Council tax £9.2m

Central Government grant £1.4m

Rates £4.9m

New Homes Bonus £1.8m

Council tax collection fund £100,000

Reductions of some 10% in Government funding over 4 years means Thanet council has to find savings of £2.6m in the next financial year.

Council fundraising

Property sell-off

TDC plans to continue with its asset management plan which means the sale of more authority owned sites across the isle.

TDC owns 600 properties worth £210million. All sites are being reviewed. Thirteen sites were earmarked for disposal in this financial year with seven of those going under the hammer at a Clive Emson auction earlier this month.

Housing company

Proposals for a new housing company are mentioned in budget papers as ‘income generation.’

No further details have yet been revealed but a similar plan has been mooted by neighbouring Dover District Council where members discussed borrowing £200 million to invest in property, using the returns to boost regeneration and support services.

Car parking charges

Fees for car parks and on-street parking will rise in costs of between 20p and £4.

Lottery

TDC says: “a new lottery is expected to generate a new income fee.”

A council spokesman said: “The establishment of a local lottery in aid of good causes in Thanet is on the agenda for discussion by Cabinet on Thursday 9 March. The proposal is currently at a very early stage of development but the purpose is to raise funds for local good causes to benefit Thanet residents and would most likely be run by an external lottery manager.”

Planned investment

The budget includes £55 million of investment in the period 2017 to 2021, including £14.5m of affordable homes for rent.

Multi-storey car parks

Cabinet members have agreed for TDC to buy-out the leases for the Mill Lane, Margate and the Leopold Street, Ramsgate car parks. The ‘finance leases’ were put in place to fund the construction of the two car parks in the 1970s.

Buying out the leases would give the council full control of the sites, as well as saving the council taxpayers some £50,000 per year for each car park, which would contribute toward the budget strategy.

The option to buy out the leases could be exercised in 2017 for Mill Lane and 2020 for Leopold Street.

It is anticipated that the purchase price will be in the region of £3 million for each multi-storey site.

Spending

Cash will also be spent on improvements at Jackey Bakers, sea wall work in Minnis bay to Grenham Bay, vehicles, groyne installation at Ramsgate beach and work at Ramsgate Port.

Further funds will be used to improve Dreamland car park.

Ramsgate port had been earmarked for cash to replace the existing berth 4/5 structure. Inclusion of work to berth 3 was added to this with a total budget of £664k . But more unanticipated work has been identified on berths 2 and 3. The cost of the additional work will increase the required budget to £1.1 million.

Balanced budget

Council leader Chris Wells said: “Achieving a balanced budget is evidence that the council’s finances are in a robust position. We have also been able to demonstrate our commitment to growth in Thanet through the sums allocated for investment and affordable housing.

“This budget and its smooth passage through council is due to the openness of the work between council officers and members throughout the budget-setting process. All had to look ever more closely at how the council can generate income, not simply cut services to residents.

“The unanimous vote of approval for this budget must be unique in Thanet council’s history – certainly in living memory!”