A councillor has defended an above inflation increase of Richmond Town Council’s share of the council tax bill.
Richmond Town Council increased its precept by five per cent at a meeting this week — a decision described as “legalised robbery” by one councillor who voted against the rise.
Cllr Stuart Parsons, who was one of three councillors who voted against the increase, sad there was no need to put the tax up by so much.
Cllr Parsons said the authority had predicted reserves of £193,000 at the end of the current financial year.
He said: “If we spent everything we planned to do then we’d still have reserved of more than £160,000 next year without an increase.
“If they had some great plans that would have made the life of Richmond residents better, then fair enough but they don’t.
“There’s no reason for it but they did it anyway. It’s legalised robbery.”
The increase was proposed by Cllr Philip Wicks and seconded by Ian Woods.
Councillors White, Morton and Harris voted in favour, while councillors Parsons, Hodgson and Heap voted against.
The chair, Cllr Jonathan Preece, abstained.
Cllr Wicks said Richmond Town Council had been running an operating deficit for some years, and had rightly been financing this from reserves.
But he added: “However, this cannot continue indefinitely.
“The choice facing council was to cut expenditure to achieve a balanced budget, which nobody wanted, or to increase council tax in order to support and grow the services to our community.
“In the current economic climate, 5 per cent is clearly above the rate of inflation, but the cost to a Band D council taxpayer is just £2.40 per annum, less than the cost of a cappuccino.”
In response, Cllr Parsons said those voting in favour of the increase had not proposed any cost-cutting ideas.
“There is some that could have been made relatively easily and painlessly, but they didn’t come up with any ideas,” he added.