OF ALL the many bills people have to pay, the council tax is the one that often causes the greatest annoyance. In some ways this is not fair, because the money does pay for a lot of local services on which residents rely. However, it is easy to understand why this local tax raises such passions.

Such concerns are especially pertinent at present, when we are stuck in a credit crunch and have a recession looming above us. The council tax now represents a big lump of money for those in work – and, effectively, a bigger lump still for those who have retired.

With money too tight to mention on all sides, cash-strapped taxpayers in York and North Yorkshire will be anxious about next month’s announcements about the council tax rates for 2009/10. Some will fear that they might not be able to pay their council tax bills, if there are significant rises.

So it is at least reassuring to discover that leading councillors have pledged to help residents, by trying to keep council tax rises as low as possible. There are also welcome indications that councils may be willing to help voters who struggle with their bills.

It is good to see councillors showing an awareness of the potential hardships residents face in these increasingly difficult times. Hopefully, measures will be put in place to ease those who are worried about meeting their financial obligations.

Also, councils will have to look very carefully to their costs. They have to attempt to keep any rises as low as possible, while still being able to maintain and run successful local services.

And they should never forget that it is our money they are raising and spending.

Fears on tax bill burdens