Councillor 'regrets' 10 per cent tax increase in Skegness
COUNCIL tax payers in Skegness will pay 10.83 per cent more towards services provided by the town council.
The increase in the precept was decided at a special meeting of the council which also heard warnings on potential pressures on budgets for years to come.
In December, Skegness Town Council set a provisional budget as they were unable to confirm the figure due to the new council tax support grant being distributed to town and parish councils not having been announced.
The grant on average covers 90 per cent of the additional local burden because of changes being made to council tax benefit.
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The grant Skegness has received is £50,786 and the amount of money they are precepting to receive from rate payers is £198,103.
This equates to £38.88 a year for an average band D property or 75p a week – an increase of £3.80.
Town clerk Steve Larner said: "It is quite likely that next year we will not be in the fortunate position of not being capped. I think that it is likely that in future years, town and parishes will be required to hold a referendum the same way as precepting authorities for precepts above two per cent."
He said it was also unclear whether the grant would be available in future years or whether it would still cover 90 per cent of the additional burden from the changes in council tax benefit.
Councillor Steve Kirk, who described the increase as regrettable, said it is possible for the council withdraw the extra £4,150 reserved for Christmas illuminations and the additional investment of £1,500 into CCTV to fund the gap but he was concerned about the council's general reserves of £57,000.
He said: "The rule of thumb is that you should have enough to keep us running for three months. We are getting very, very close which is dangerous in my opinion.
"On this occasion, we should take it on the chin, apologise to the people of Skegness for this happening. It is out of our control, we simply had no choice on this occasion."
Labour Councillor Phil Kemp said the situation was more 'criminal' than regrettable and blamed the Government.
He said: "Hopefully we wait just a few more years and we will have a Government which can reverse this stupid thing."
Deputy mayor, Councillor Jim Carpenter said: "I think really in the times we are in today, we have done well to keep it down as much as we have. With that amount, we should applaud ourselves."