The Thanet Gazette devotes a great deal of coverage today to the island's fiscal challenges ahead.
Bearing in mind that the total funding we will receive from central government over the next three years us set to fall in nominal terms, and fall further after inflation is taken into account, the council is having to be very cautious with what little money there is available; remember that only 40% of the income comes from the community charge and Thanet is a welfare and grant dependent environment.
So, sixty pence in every every pound of the Council's income comes from central government and that will fall sharply. In addition, the new two-tier system for business rates adds further uncertainty, and an additional and unwanted central government tax on businesses of all sizes.
In the present environment, it's only sensible to examine what the taxpayer wants, against what they can afford, taking a quote from one of Charles Dickens' most famous characters, Mr. Micawber:
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery."
As Councillor Wise says in the Gazette, "Thee council is committed to continuing to fund its core objectives, as well as providing events funding and for popular resources such as the Coastal project" but without a doubt tough decisions in regard to spending priorities lie ahead.
I read in the paper, comments such as "Where does all the money go?" and "The council should spend £75,000 repairing the building" (one of many ) and I ask, what money and whose priorities?
If you were responsible where would your priorities lie. Raising council tax to an unacceptable level in the face of a credit squeeze and a looming recession or trying to deliver the best possible all-round service with what little money there is available?
You tell me?