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Council Tax 'Donations' Plan For Oxfordshire
Residents in Oxfordshire could be offered the opportunity to pay more council tax than they owe, and specify which services their extra payment should go towards.
The idea will need to be approved at a cabinet meeting at the end of the month, but if it is, the scheme could be up and running by April.
Councillor Aresh Fatemian, who is responsible for finance on the county council, said: "We're looking at a number of models.
"Either a one-off donation or set-up monthly direct debits paid on a county council website and then you won't specify to a detailed level where you want it to go, but I'm hoping broadly speaking you'd be able to say which council area, for example adult services, children's services or highways.
"We're going to test it, I'll stick my neck out, and see what happens, we had meetings where people said they were willing to pay more and I've had a couple of donations, cheques to my inbox, there is some appetite."
By 2018, Oxfordshire will have made more than £260m worth of cuts to services and residents in one part of the county, in Banbury, were not feeling particularly well off.
One mother said: "Why would I want to pay extra? The council tax I already pay is expensive and I'm not clear what it's spent on now."
Another mother told Sky News she might consider paying extra if the money went to children's services.
One pensioner said all his money was "accounted for", and a lady who said she was disabled, and had two unemployed sons said she was "literally living on the breadline", and would not be able to contribute more to council tax.
In a similar scheme run by another authority, residents had their council tax cut, and were asked to donate the saving to community services. Only two decided to do so.
Councillor Simon Dudley, cabinet member for finance on Windsor and Maidenhead council, said: "The result was that we had just two residents who offered back the reduction (totalling £433) - which proves beyond a doubt that, in financially difficult times, our residents do indeed welcome local tax cuts and this is something the Royal Borough will be looking to achieve once again in 2014/15."
In Oxfordshire, councillor Fatemian said putting up council tax was not an option.
He said: "We'd need a 20% increase in everybody's tax and for that we'd need a referendum.
"I don't think asking everyone to pay a £230 increase in this financial situation would work.
"I don't think this idea will give us a pot of gold but considering the financial climate I think should give anything a try."
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