Hike in council tax is approved
Senior county councillors have approved an extra 1 per cent rise in council tax to what they originally planned, bringing the total rise to nearly 5 per cent for their precept.
Lincolnshire County 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 2 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 £1.3 million to its rural services grant and an extra £1.683 million in returned business rates levies from central government.
An additional £1.1 million 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 progresses 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 £20.139 million.
It will bring the total cuts to grant funding over the past four years to £50.212 million and will leave the authority with a forecast shortfall £23.092 million.
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 £13.769 million 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.