Tax payers face wait as council looks at options

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Tough conditions and hard choices are now the norm Scarborough Council’s director of Finance warned as he delivered the authority’s draft budget for the next financial year.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting Nick Edwards painted a bleak picture of things to come in the borough as Central Government continues to hit councils and council tax payers in the pocket.

In the period from 2011 up to 2016 it is now anticipated that the council will see its funding cut by £5.4 million, a 43 per cent decrease in five years.

Mr Edwards said: “To put the level of this funding cut into context it is the equivalent to the income of somebody earning £20k per annum in 2010/11 being reduced to just £11k per annum in 2015/16.”

To deal with the loss in funding the council has outlined areas it will look to make savings and generate more income.

These include not collecting “missed” bins, scraping the Christmas parking concessions and increasing the cost of off-street parking across the borough.

In the coming weeks councillors will be discussing whether to increase its share of the council tax for the first time in four years.

Mr Edwards said the decision had been made more difficult by uncertainty at what level the Government was setting the referendum boundary.

“At the moment any rise above two per cent means an authority must hold a referendum,” he said.

“We have heard from the Government that it may be looking to change the boundary, and that this change will see the boundary come down.

“We have presented two options as they are now, one if to take the Government grant and freeze the tax for the fourth year running.

“The other is to raise our share of the tax by 1.94 per cent. In real terms this will bring in around £50,000 extra for the year.”

The raising of the tax by 1.94 per cent would equate to an increase of £4.10 per annum for a Band D Council Tax payer - or 8p per week.

Last month North Yorkshire County Council, which makes up around 70 per cent of a Scarborough residents’ council tax bill, that it would seek to raise its share of the precept by two per cent.

This would add £21 to Band D bills.

On Monday the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, launched a public consultation over the proposed precept for North Yorkshire Police.

She is proposing to increase the North Yorkshire Police precept – the amount added by North Yorkshire Police to council tax bills – by 1.99 per cent. This equates to £4.07 per annum, or 8p per week, for a Band D property.

She says the increase will help enable North Yorkshire to pay for 24 extra police officers.

The Fire and Rescue Service has not yet announced what it plans to do regarding its share.