Lincoln residents facing £1m worth of cuts despite council tax increase
People are bracing themselves for £1 million worth of cuts to services in Lincoln during 2013/14 despite the city council charging households more.
A 1.9 per cent rise in the City of Lincoln Council's share of council tax has been agreed.
The authority has passed its £14 million budget for 2013/14, which includes services like bins collections and maintaining parks.
Most taxpayers will have just 6p or 7p a week added to their bill for the city council's services.
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The charge at band A is £160.50 from April and £187.25 at band B.
But the city council still has to save £3 million by 2016/17 – despite saving £4.5 million since 2008.
Savings of £1 million have already been identified for 2013/14.
Proposals include charging people £25 a year for garden waste wheelie bin collections and scrapping the urban rangers.
Meanwhile, council house tenants in Lincoln are to pay an average of £2.33 a week more in rent from April and some planning fees will rise. The ruling Labour group blames cuts on a poor Government settlement and restrictions on increasing council tax but insists it is not a case of overspending at City Hall.
Shaun Scott, 40, from St Botolph's Court, Lincoln, said: "It is a shame that cutbacks have to be made and you cannot please everybody.
"The council is stuck between a rock and a hard place and the Government says they have been left with little money to give councils.
"What I wouldn't want to see go is the urban rangers.
"If no one's patrolling the parks and vandalism increases it will cost more in repairs than cutting this service."
Ahead of the budget being agreed, Lincoln Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition staged a protest outside the Guildhall.
Lincoln TUSC spokesman Nick Parker said: "The Labour Party increased its share of the vote in last year's council elections as voters rejected Tory/Liberal cuts.
"The people of Lincoln deserve better than for their councillors to swing the axe on behalf of Eric Pickles and the Tory Government."
In addition to the city council charge, council tax bills include a levy for Lincolnshire County Council services like education and roads. Their levy has been frozen for the third year running.
People in band A properties will pay £710.46 in 2013/14 for these services and £828.87 at band B.
The county council needs to save £125 million over four years, with two more years remaining. Efficiency savings have so far been made by cutting 1,000 jobs and off-loading leases.
Added to the county council charge is 2 per cent more for Lincolnshire Police's portion, £126.72 at band A and £147.84 at band B.
The force's £113 million budget maintains 1,100 regular frontline police officers.
Leader of the city council, Ric Metcalfe, said the authority faces an "unprecedented financial crisis" of income, not expenditure, due to the "failed economic polices of this Government".
He added this his administration would continue to fight poverty, build council housing and boost the economy.
Leader of the Conservative opposition, Hilton Spratt, said the Coalition Government had been left with "nothing in the kitty" by the previous Labour Government.
In presenting his alternative budget, he said: "We think the stealth tax on green wheelie bins will end up with hundreds of them in the streets and flytipping on grass and throughout the green areas of Lincoln.
"The commons warden and urban rangers are very popular with the public, they are great ambassadors for the city and also an excellent crime deterrent."
He pledged not to charge for green bins, protect £1,000 ward budgets to all 33 councillors for good causes and keep urban rangers.
Councillor Spratt suggested savings could be made by sharing more backroom functions with other councils and senior officers at Lincoln and creating a unitary authority system where a single council is responsible for all services.