Essex Police Authority increases council tax precept by 3.47%

Essex Police Authority has agreed to increase its share of council tax by 3.47% for the next financial year.

Four rounds of voting were needed to reject a government grant to freeze its precept and then agree on the exact level of the increase.

Taxpayers living in an average band D property will pay £136.70 towards the force in 2012/13, an increase of £4.58.

The force is having to make cuts of about £41m from its budget by 2014, with the loss of 388 officers.

Its budget for Essex in 2012/13 has been set at £261.5m, a £7.4m reduction from the current year.

'Difficult decision'

The police authority had three options to decide on regarding its precept - a freeze, a 3% increase or a 3.95% increase.

Following a secret ballot, an increase of 3.47% was agreed.

Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle, who does not sit on the authority, said freezing council tax would have resulted in further cuts.

"This pretty much keeps us to the existing budget reduction plan and, given the current climate, from my point of view it's a well balanced decision," he said.

"This is not about whether it was a good result or not. The members had an astonishingly difficult decision to make and I don't think that should be lost on the public."

Chief Constable Barker-McCardle added that the Essex Police tax precept was still the lowest for band D properties among the 31 shires in England.

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