Your Councillors


Agenda item

Fees & Charges 2019/20

Minutes:

Mr Mark Green, Director of Finance and Business Improvement, addressed the Committee.  Mr Green explained that, in accordance with best practice, Officers reviewed fees and charges on an annual basis to account for aspects such as inflation.  The report outlined the proposed fees and charges within the remit of the Committee.  Mr Green advised the Committee that paragraph 1.6 of the report should be amended to:

 

“The overall increase in income if these changes are agreed and implemented as planned is expected to be £76,520 which amounts to a 5.9% increase in the overall budgeted income figure for this committee for the current financial year. This information excludes fees for licensing, which will be reported to the Licensing Committee for approval.”

 

The Committee expressed concern at the proposed increased charges for the Garden Waste Service, as there was a risk that residents with lower incomes would be discouraged from using the service.  Further to this, the Committee was uneasy about the price increase for Food Export Certificates.  It was suggested that House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licenses were an opportunity for the generation of additional income.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Mr Green stated that:

 

·  The increased charges for the Garden Waste Service did not exceed figures that had previously been agreed by Members.

 

·  It was necessary to consider the increased charges for services in the context of balancing the whole Council budget.

 

·  It was preferable to generate additional income rather than cutting services.

 

·  The Garden Waste Services charge was originally due to be increased in both 2019/20 and 2020/21.  The proposal in the report ensured that customers did not experience increased charges in consecutive years, and that costs remained competitive with other Local Authorities.

 

Mr John Littlemore, Head of Housing and Community Services, explained to the Committee that HMO Licenses lasted for three years.  A reduced income from licences was therefore expected in Years Two and Three following a large number of applications in Year One.  The rationale for increasing Food Export Certificate charges was to be circulated to the Committee outside of the meeting.

 

Mrs Shepherd stated that neighbouring Local Authorities had explored the introduction of a Garden Waste Service, and estimated that it would cost £15 more than the proposed charge.  Furthermore, Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) offered residents the opportunity to use smaller bins or share bins with neighbours to ensure for value for money.  Customer usage figures were monitored on a monthly basis and could be shared with the Committee, while historical figures regarding price increases could also be shared outside of the Committee.

 

The Committee commented that it was preferable to agree the proposed increased charges and to monitor uptake of services to assess the impact of the decision.  Despite the reluctance to increase prices, it was stated that there were no other viable way to save the required money.

 

RESOLVED: That the proposed discretionary fees and charges set out in Appendix 1 to this report are agreed.

 

Voting: For – 5   Against – 4  Abstentions – 0

 

Note: Chairman’s casting vote in favour.

 

Supporting documents: