Council Tax bills confirmed - here is how much Scarborough residents will pay
Scarborough Council has voted to increase its Council Tax share and make more than £1m in savings in the coming year.
The borough council has set its budget for 2019/20, which includes a planned rise in council tax of 2.99%, the equivalent of an extra £6.82 a year for a Band D property.
Including North Yorkshire County Council and the police and fire services, residents in Scarborough are facing rises of nearly £100 on their bills.
Going forward the council will make cuts and savings totalling £1.544million over the year 2019/20.
The authority also needs to make close to £5million in savings by 2022 after already making £18million in savings from its revenue budget since 2010.
Speaking at today’s full council meeting, Cllr Helen Mallory (Con), the portfolio holder for corporate investment, said the decision to increase Council Tax had “not been taken lightly”.
She also told the chamber that the borough council took around £234 of the £1,890 a Band D property would pay a year. Cllr Mallory said she wanted to clarify that issue as there seemed to be confusion “online” about the bills.
She praised the councillors and officers for delivering a balanced budget.
Cllr Mallory added: “The Council Tax raise will help to protect and sustain essential frontline services going forward.”
The budget and rise were approved by 25 votes to 15.
Labour leader Cllr Steve Siddons said his opposition group could not support the Conservative budget, though it could have voted to approve the Council Tax rise had they been voted on separately.
He said: “This Labour group said in 2010 that the [Conservative council] should not have taken the Council Tax freeze bribe. If we had increased Council Tax by 1% a year we would have an extra £1million now to provide services.”
Independent Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff hit out at the council’s purchase of a Travelodge hotel last year for £14million.
She said the council should, instead, have spent the money building social housing.
She also questioned the running of the Scarborough Open Air Theatre, which has operated at a loss since it re-opened in 2010 despite attracting big names to the town.
“People are subsidising performances from Britney Spears which they themselves could never afford to attend,” she said.
Ahead of today’s meeting, the council’s finance director has spelt out in his budget report that hard decisions remain for the authority.
Nick Edwards wrote: “Significant efficiencies have been delivered in recent years and it is recognised that efficiencies alone may not be sufficient to bridge the funding gap in future years’ budgets.
“It is highly likely that members will be required to prioritise services and make difficult decisions in regards to service cuts in forthcoming years.”
Mr Edwards also warned that staff redundancies are inevitable.
He added: “The council has recognised that to achieve efficiency savings that minimise the impact on the delivery of front line services there will be a need to reduce staffing numbers, which will inevitably result in redundancies.”
Other savings will come from making more of the borough toilets pay-on-entry, getting them sponsored by businesses or taken over by town councils, or through closures.
The council is also looking to save money on its contract with its leisure services provider and through the grants it gives to organisations, including the Scarborough Museums Trust.
A further £70,000 will be saved from the grass cutting budget as part of a “modernisation” of the parks department and £80,000 from the relocation of the Manor Road Nursery operation to the Dean Road Depot.
Carl Gavaghan , Local Democracy Reporting Service