Council votes for freeze on precepts

EFFICIENT budgeting by Skegness Town Council looks set to provide ratepayers with enhanced services for less tax despite facing increasing economic pressures.

During a meeting at Skegness Town Hall on Wednesday councillors voted to freeze council tax precepts for next year at £230,609.

Although the council’s proportion of the overall bill is relatively minor the Mayor of Skegness Coun Steve Kirk felt it was appropriate to minimise the burden on the ratepayer during these times of economic hardship.

Speaking after the meeting he said: “We are all suffering the pinch so anything we can do to help people of Skegness I think we have a duty to do.

“Through some very careful budgeting we will be able to spend on what we’ve always spent on without any increase in precepts.”

This year the total amount paid to the town council by an average band D property was £35.10.

Under the new budget that figures is expected to decrease slightly due to there being more homes contributing to the same total precept.

Town clerk Steve Larner also believes the implementation of more efficient working procedures will enable the council to provide enhanced services despite the freeze on precepts and increasing fuel and insurance costs. He said: “We are taking a much more planned approach to work now so that we are looking ahead rather than responding to things as they arise.

“We’ve also agreed to improve our software system so that will help us to work more efficiently and there are several tenders that are coming up which we will be looking for best value in any new contract.”

Councillors at Wednesday’s meeting were also appreciative of Mr Larner’s adoption of a more transparent policy with regard to the town’s reserves. Previously the council has come under fire for having large sums of money unaccounted for in the general reserves.

Under the new system, reserved money has been allocated to particular funds such as one for developing a town plan, so that the ratepayer can understand why the council is in possession of that money.

“What we’ve done this year is assess where is future expenditure is coming from and allocated that to a fund so it’s more transparent to the ratepayer,” he explained.

Public services and facilities managed by the council include: allotments, burial grounds, some benches and flower baskets and the Sunshine Play Area.

It will continue to charge the same fees for allotment holders next year, however there will be a slight increase in cemetery fees to cover inflation and the growing area of graveyard the council maintains. East Lindsey District Council’s executive board will make a recommendation for its precepts in January to be agreed by full council in March.