Council tax freeze plan is proposed

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COUNCIL tax in East Lindsey could be frozen again this year if budget proposals are approved.

The draft plans will face their first hurdle at the district’s executive board committee on Tuesday, with further crunch meetings also scheduled in future weeks, before a final decision in late February.

But the district authority will need to find at least another £4m in savings over the next two years if it is to balance the books under the new proposals.

And although the senior councillor behind the budget is convinced it can be implemented without threatening front-line services, he has warned that tough decisions also lie ahead.

Announcing his draft budget, the district’s portfolio holder for finance, Coun. John Upsall said he believed the new budget could deliver the savings through greater efficiency.

This would include a £1.2m reduction in the cost of employees following the removal of vacant posts and a management restructure.

He added that the shared-services company, Compass Point Business Services, would also help the district make the required savings.

He said: “The budget I have proposed would allow us to continue to invest in local services over the next financial year and this is positive news.

“If supported by fellow councillors [the freeze I propose] would mean East Lindsey residents continue to pay their district council one of the lowest Council Tax rates in the country.

“Although we remain well positioned financially compared to many other councils we must continue to manage our finances robustly to ensure we can make the savings required in future years too.

“We will continue to rigorously review our services and look for opportunities to make the additional savings we need, whilst minimising the impact on front line services, particularly those that serve the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Coun Upsall argued that his number one priority when proposing the savings had been to protect services to local people.

He added that major investments in public toilets, flood defences, the rural economy, disabled facility grants and tourist festivals would all still go ahead, and that the authority was also considering £2.5m in affordable housing investment.

The full draft budget is available to view and comment on at www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/consultation until the end of January.