CASH-strapped families will benefit from a Woodley council tax cut for a second consecutive year.
The Conservative-led Town Council approved a three per cent drop in the tax precept on Tuesday night as part of the 2015/16 budget, despite calls from opposition councillors to lower it further.
The cut will give residents an extra £3 in their pockets, meaning the average Band D property will pay £105.65 instead of £108.92. This represents an eight per cent drop and a £9 saving in total over the last two years.
However Liberal Democrats Cllr Coling Lawley and Cllr Phil Challis, who abstained from voting for the budget, proposed a five per cent cut this year as the council is no longer stumping up cash to maintain Bulmershe Leisure Centre.
The pair suggested that this would be paid for by spending £30,000 that had been previously earmarked for a no longer needed electronic booking system for the Bulmershe and Woodford Park leisure centres.
Cllr Lawley said: “We are saving in excess of £100,000 a year, so the council is awash with funds.
“We are confident that this five per cent reduction still provides for a prudent budget while at the same time increasing our general reserves by £9,149.
“I am aware that you can only spend your money once and you can either spend it on booking software or lowering the precept.”
Cllr Challis argued the £30,000 had been “hidden” in the budget figures and should at least be put back into the council’s general reserves, which are estimated to stand at £346,054 at the end of March.
In response, council leader Cllr Keith Baker said that reserves needed to be saved for a rainy day and large projects, and spending them now to cut the precept further was not a “practical” financial plan that could be repeated.
He said: “You can only spend a reserve amount once. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. How can you make this further cut again next year?
“Next year will see some major projects coming forward, starting with the 3G football pitch, followed up with the redevelopment of the north end of the town centre and the arrival of the long-awaited toilets.
“There are also plans being worked on at the moment to make some major investments in both Woodford Park Leisure Centre and the park itself. All these will require major capital funds to complete, which will have to come from reserves.”