County council proposes further council tax increase
Senior councillors have approved an extra one per cent rise in council tax to what they originally planned, bringing the total rise to nearly four per cent for their precept.
The news follows on from yesterday's announcement by South Holland District Council that its precept will rise by 2.91 per cent.
Council leader Martin Hill proposed to take advantage of a Government allowance which will see the proposed increase now include 1.95 per cent for general council tax and two per cent extra for adult social care precept for 2019/20.
He and other leaders acknowledged, however, that the public was at the limit with council tax rises and moved to reassure people.
“If things come round, I’m quite clear if we get a reasonable amount of extra money next year we can plan not to increase council tax so much next year,” he said.
Asked by fellow councillors about future budgets, he added: "Next year will be quite an important year and will set the way for the next few years ahead.
“We need to use all budget to make ourselves sustainable and hope that this time next year we’ll be looking at a better situation.”
Councillors were told the authority could be receiving an extra £1.3million to its rural services grant and an extra £1.683million in returned business rates levies from Central Government.
An additional £1.1million was also agreed to go to heritage services in Lincolnshire, despite them having had a target to be self-sustaining and have zero budget this year.
Councillor Hill said progress had been made, however, the target had not been met. He asked for the extra cash and said he hoped the service would move to be completely self-sustaining next year.
Further cuts in grants from central government though could see the usual revenue support grant, the main source of funding, fall to £20.139million.
It will bring the total cuts to grant funding over the past four years to £50.212million and will leave the authority with a forecasted shortfall £23.092million.
However, the authority has proposed to dip into its reserves in order to balance the books.
Councillors were told the move was a “one off contribution” but, the authority also used its reserves in 2018-19 when it took out £12 million as part of a £35 million two-year budget plug.
A 3.95 per cent increase in council tax would generate an additional £13.769million for the local authority in 2019/20.
It was also confirmed the council had been unsuccessful in its bid to the government to continue to retain a portion of its business rates as part of a pilot programme.
Final budget plans will come back to the authority’s executive on February 5, 2019.