Austerity-hit council plans tax increase

Lincolnshire County Council EMN-140209-155043001
Lincolnshire County Council EMN-140209-155043001
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Taxpayers are facing the prospect of an increase in their bills from Lincolnshire County Council for the first time in four years.

The authority is proposing a 1.9 per cent rise in council tax in the coming financial year in the wake of further cuts to its Government funding.

It would be the first time the council has increased the levy, which forms just part of residents’ annual council tax bills, since 2010/11.

Coun Martin Hill, leader of the council, said: “As expected, we’ve had another tough settlement from the Government and this comes on top of increased costs, much of which relates to the care of elderly people.

“Overall this has left a gap of around £67m in our budget for this year.

“We’ve already found £30m of savings and are planning to use £33m of our reserves to help balance the books. However, like many county councils, we are also recommending a small increase of 1.9 per cent in council tax, to make up the shortfall.”

For the past three years, the authority has accepted a grant in return for freezing council tax.

This grant is again on offer, but only up to a value equivalent to a one per cent rise.

The council says an increase less than 1.9 per cent would mean reducing its planned level of service, while a rise of more than 1.9 per cent would trigger a referendum at an estimated cost of £800,000.

Coun Hill said the 1.9 per cent rise would equate to an extra £20 a year for a band D property.

He said: “That means our council tax will still remain the third lowest for a county council in the country.”

He added: “Whilst looking at the savings required we have been determined to protect children and adult safeguarding and, thanks in part to an extra £9m from the Government, we are able to increase spending on highways maintenance.”

The budget is currently out to consultation. Find out how to get involved at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk.

The executive board will meet on February 3 to recommend final proposals for approval by the full council on February 20.