Council tax freeze 'will ease financial pain for residents in Boston'
BOSTON residents could see a freeze in the borough council's portion of their council tax bills for the third year running.
The recommendation was made at a recent meeting of Boston Borough Council's cabinet.
It means that for an average Band D household, the borough's portion of council tax will remain at £168.39 – £3.23 a week with many households paying less.
Joint deputy leader and finance portfolio holder Cllr Raymond Singleton-McGuire said: "Despite the financial pressures we face we recognise that this helps the local community at a time when most people are feeling the impact of financial pressures."
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But the recommendations for the coming year's finances came with a health warning for the future.
Cllr Singleton-McGuire said that an indicative two-year funding settlement from central Government pointed to a "fiscal cliff" in 2014/15 with a nine per cent reduction, around £600,000.
He added: "Given that funding is reducing and there are continuing expenditure pressures, going forward the council needs to find around £1m in savings over the next five years."
Despite a very difficult year with significant financial challenges, he said the council had a "fit for purpose" budget and added: "Challenges remain, which we are now well placed to meet. We continue to reduce our budgets, provide good services and retain a healthy level of reserves. Neither have we sought to increase council tax nor make wholesale redundancies, a plight which many councils have suffered.
"Government policy initiatives aimed at reducing benefit payments through Welfare Reform and the Council Tax Support Scheme have, and will continue, to impact on both council budgets and the local community."
The council's transformation programme and challenging senior officers to reduce costs and deliver good services have identified new ways of working and looked at cost reduction.
To assist in meeting future savings challenges the council is consulting on a 20p increase in car parking charges from October this year, with the exception of the 30-minute stay in the Market Place, starting at 8am, and an overnight charge of £1.
It also recommends introducing overnight, 6pm to 8am, monthly £20 parking permits for all car parks, and 8am to 6pm cash-saving permits for all long-stay car parks - £30 a month, £85 a quarter and £340 per year.
And new 24-hour permits are to be introduced for all long-stay car parks - £40 a month, £110 a quarter and £440 a year. These all represent savings compared with daily charges.
The council has £280,000 over the next two years earmarked for car park improvement work.
Employee terms and conditions are being reviewed again with an aim of saving £167,000 in 2014/15, £113,000 in 2015/16, ££158,000 in 2016/17 and £230,000 in 2017/18.
From 2014/15 the discretionary rate relief budget will be reduced by 25 per cent
You can comment on the proposed budget via the council's website, www.boston.gov.uk