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No increase in borough council tax recommended

No increase in the level of council tax charged by Boston Borough Council in 2014/15 has been recommended by Cabinet to the full council's budget-setting meeting on Monday, March 3.

This would hold the borough's share of council tax for a Band D property at £168.39 (the equivalent of £3.23 per week) - remember that although the borough council collects your council tax, the lion's share goes to Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police. County has also recommended no increase, but it seems likely there will be an increase in the demand from Police.
On Wednesday Cllr Raymond Singleton-McGuire, the council's finance portfolio holder, said the recommendation not to increase council tax was thanks to "the hard work of this administration and prudent housekeeping".

He said the budget was unchallenged and safe. "It's not come easy. Through united working of the Conservative administration this is the third successive budget without raising council tax, raiding reserves and without redundancies, while maintaining and improving services.

"We will spend every penny wisely for the benefit of the people we serve. This budget ensures we do more with less."

He reminded members that an estimated £1,759,000 needed to be saved by 2018/19, £639,000 in 2015/16. Government support for the council was being cut by £772,000 (23 per cent) between 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Despite this the council was focused on improving housing and business growth, which would present more employment opportunities and reduce demand on the cost of social benefits.

He said the council's housing strategy would benefit from £750,000 of new homes bonus and, through the pooling mechanism, the council expects to keep £100,000 of business rates in 2014/15 which would otherwise go to central Government.

A joint working agreement with East Lindsey District Council for refuse collecting would also save money.

Spending plans include refurbishment of public toilets in Wide Bargate (cattle market) and Lincoln Lane, car park resurfacing, adaptions to properties to help people with disabilities live at home, replacement of a street cleansing vehicle and High Speed Broadband (BDUK) - the council's contribution towards a nationwide scheme to roll out high-speed broadband.

Cllr Derek Richmond praised help from council staff and Cllr Stephen Woodliffe said it was "remarkable" that council tax had been kept down considering the economic climate.

Cllr Michael Brookes said a safe but not excessive  level of reserves was also being maintained - with just over £5m estimated to be held in specific reserves at the end of 2014/15

Council leader, Cllr Peter Bedford, said: "I want to thank all member of the council - there have not been too many arguments. It's the way forward."

He said people would see the money from the sale of the Assembly Rooms being used for a new environmental services depot, which would save money in the long term and was money "wisely spent".