How much can you pay to save police jobs, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner asks taxpayers
THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset is calling on locals to express their views on a possible council tax increase next year, which could save up to 180 officer jobs.
Sue Mountstevens is currently consulting residents on plans to raise the force's share of council tax levy, known as its precept, in 2014/2015 to offset budget cuts of around £15 million over the next two years.
The PCC froze its precept for the year 2013/2014 but continuing to do so would place 228 jobs at risk.
As part of the online survey, Ms Mountstevens, who will have to submit a draft budget to the Police and Crime Panel in February 2014, is asking taxpayers whether they wish the police precept to remain frozen or would be willing to fork out between £3 and £16 extra per year to safeguard services.
Failing to increase it by at least two percent, or £3.36 per year, for the average Band D household would mean axing 228 officers and PCSO posts.
But more people need to come forward and make their wishes known in order for Ms Mountstevens to make an informed choice.
“It’s really important that residents tell me what they would be prepared to contribute towards policing," said the PCC. "For the past three years the policing part of the council tax has been frozen. Now I have the choice to freeze again and put 200 posts at risk, to increase by up to 2%, costing the average resident £3.36 extra a year, or go higher and risk a referendum.
“These are difficult decisions and I need to be sure that I have heard from as many local people as possible before I make them."
She added: "There is a balancing act to do between making sure the Constabulary are sufficiently resourced to concentrate on the things that matter to you and not burdening already over-stretched residents with higher household bills.”
Various options are listed in the consultation, including raising council tax bills by two per cent, four per cent, six per cent, eight per cent or ten per cent.
A hike of ten percent, or £16.80 annually, would still mean losing 51 officers and PCSOs across the forces.
To fill in the online questionnaire visit www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk
Copies are also available from South Gloucestershire Council, public buildings and libraries across the district.
For further information or to request a copy of the survey call 01275 816377.
The consultation ends on November 15.
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