Zero council tax increase to help during recession

A BUDGET to ‘maintain services and help individuals struggling to make ends meet during the recession’ was recommended by Boston Borough Council in proposing a zero increase in council tax for the coming year.

On Wednesday the cabinet recommended residents should not have to pay an extra penny, despite a cut in the Government’s contribution to fall from £6.8m in 2010/11 to £6.1m in 2011/12.

Coun Jim Blaylock said at the meeting: “There have been some difficult decisions and numbers to understand, but while other councils have been making substantial redundancies ours is in a much better position. The council has worked so hard to produce a budget that is both affordable and prudent for the future.”

The budget will mean for 2011/12 residents living in a band D property will again pay a council tax portion of £168.39 - equivalent to £3.23 per week.

Although the borough council collects council tax, 75 per cent of the total bill relates to county council services, 12 per cent to police, 12 per cent is Boston’s element, with the remainder for parish councils.

The council has set a savings target over the next four years of £1.4m, and some changes to fees and charges have been proposed from April 1.

Peter Linfield, head of finance and ICT, said: “The proposed budget will see the council reduce its net budget by some £1.1 million with little, if any, reduction in its services. This is a strong reflection of the efforts made by all members and officers in driving forward the value for money agenda.”

The council’s total spend for 2011/12 is estimated to be £41.4m. Its income is expected to be £31.9m leaving a net budget of £9.5m. This is £1.1m down on 2010/11.

Savings will be made via its Transformation Programme - such as through shared working with South Holland District Council on the Local Development Framework (saving £100,000), reducing leisure costs by £100,000, and employees accepting terms and conditions savings of more than £200,000.

Increases in charges have been recommended for cremations and burials, trade waste, licensing, Hackney carriage licences and the leisure pool.

Cabinet recommended an original average increase of nine per cent in car parking charges, which would have generated an extra £100,000, should not go ahead. It recommended a minimal increase of five per cent be introduced instead. This increase is necessary, they said, to cover the rise in VAT.

l What do you think to the budget recommendations? Email gemma.gadd@jpress.co.uk