No tax rise but council axes 22 jobs

Scarborough Town Hall
Scarborough Town Hall

Council tax rises and parking tariff increases have been snubbed by councillors as they prepare to set next year’s budget.

However the local authority is set to axe 22 of its jobs in a bid to save £2.6 million.

Sitting at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, councillors were told they face a 4.7 per cent cut in Government funding for 2013/14, followed by a 13 per cent cut the following year.

Finance chiefs at Scarborough Council have already identified savings of £2.5 million to achieve a budget of £16.87 million, however they are still facing a shortfall of £147,000.

Councillors were asked to consider a number of options to settle the balance, including raising council tax by two per cent, and increasing parking charges across the borough.

Nicholas Edwards, head of finance and asset management, told the meeting: “This is the first opportunity we have had to bring this report as we didn’t get government figures until just before Christmas. The key messages are money is extremely tight and the budget is high risk.

“We cannot make any decision that are going to be to our detriment in the future, so we don’t want to be using the general fund budget to prop up the budget.”

However councillors vetoed many of the money saving suggestions.

Council leader Cllr Tom Fox, who chaired the meeting, said: “We went to hell and back discussing a rise in council tax last year. There wasn’t an appetite for it then and I’m getting the same feedback now.

“The biggest issue is because of the time constraints there has not been serious public consultation.”

Mr Edwards suggested a mid-term budget review in July to help predict finances ahead of bigger government cuts the following year.

Cllr Fox agreed and said the mid term review would also allow time for public consultation on suggestions which at present couldn’t be considered. He said: “Rising car parking charges is not something we want to do in three weeks. “The mid term review is when we can start looking at these suggestions. In July we need to be forthright.

“I want public engagement but we haven’t been able to do that. We will have our eye on the future but we have to consider the public and engaging with the public.”

Mr Edwards agreed that while he didn’t want to dip into the general fund, he wanted to set a balanced budget, so the fund could be used ahead of a mid term review.

Full Council is due to set the budget on February 22.