East Hampshire District Council has frozen its share of Council Tax for the forthcoming year, one of only a handful of councils around the country to do so.
The freeze follows two consecutive cuts, bringing Council Tax down to 2010 levels.
The decision, unanimously agreed by EHDC at its Full Council meeting on 22 February, forms part of its ongoing ambition to be financially self-sufficient and no longer reliant on either Government grants or Council Tax.
Cllr Ferris Cowper, EHDC’s Finance Portfolio Holder, said: “EHDC is committed to having the capacity to reduce Council Tax to zero. When that happens we may still charge a nominal tax and use the proceeds to deliver new or better services.
“To achieve this the council has set itself ambitious targets to generate income through means such as selling skills and property investment while also providing our services more efficiently. These methods have allowed the council to make two consecutive cuts in Council Tax - the only council in the country to achieve this - backed up by this year’s freeze.”
EHDC’s commitment to keeping Council Tax low has been held up by its innovative approach to public services.
Instead of relying on government grants and increases in Council Tax EHDC has looked for new ways of making and saving money.
EHDC has successfully invested in property, generating a much higher return than cash investments in banks. By focusing on commercial properties with high-value tenancies the council can maximise the return on its investments at low risk.
EHDC has also been working hard to provide its services more efficiently and is always looking for new ways to provide excellent public services at a lower cost.
The council is also looking to sells its skills and expertise to other local authorities or to the private sector. Current sales include executive management, marketing and communications, enforcement, planning and economic development services.
Council Tax will be frozen for 2018/19 at £131.11 for a Band D property.