Sunday parking charges for Horsham town centre and a council tax rise could be agreed by the council next Thursday.
If agreed by Horsham District Council’s Cabinet, a £1.50 flat fee would be charged on car parks in the town on Sundays and bank holidays, while a 1.2 per cent increase in the authority’s share of council tax is also being proposed.
This would be the equivalent of an extra £1.63 a year for the average Band D household, on top of any increases proposed by West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police.
The measures are due to reduced grant funding from central Government, which without action would see the council facing a £4m budget deficit by 2019/20.
Ray Dawe, leader of the council, said: “Through efficiency savings and prudent financial planning we have been able to avoid increasing council tax for six years and have given our residents one of the lowest council tax levels in the country.
“At the same time we have been able to maintain a high level of service to our residents.
“However, while we shall persist with trying to find further efficiency savings and minimise any increased charges, our options as a result of the latest Government cuts are becoming more limited.
“What is clear is that while the council has a sound financial position for the short term, unless we take action now as the Government grant disappears, we shall have a huge deficit in the future.
“Councillors will therefore need to discuss a medium term strategy of how to tackle this when they meet for our annual budget meeting in February 2016.”
The idea of introducing Sunday parking charges was greeted with an overwhelmingly negative response from readers when the proposals were first revealed by the County Times before Christmas, with one resident describing plans as ‘absolute madness’.
According to a council report after additional staff and running costs of £60,000, the new charges are expected to bring in an extra £140,000 a year. One off costs of £22,000 are needed for new signs and adjusting the parking machine tariffs and back-office software.
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