Town councils have revealed their budgets for the coming year as they try to balance the needs of their residents with financial pressures.
County and district councils in the area have already announced tax increases as they try to cope with further cuts to Government grants. And several town councils have followed suit by raising their share of the tax bill, known as the precept.
Uppingham residents will have to pay an extra 24 per cent in 2016/17. This equates to an increase of 26p per week, or £13.49 per year, for the average band D property, taking the total from £56.89 to £70.38. The council’s total budget will be £105,393.
Uppingham town clerk Neil Wedge said in previous years the council had not budgeted as well as it could have, and the increase would cover a number of significant projects.
Deputy mayor Alec Crombie added: “Uppingham has already benefited from the new world of localism, one great example being the Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan.
“To continue to do more locally, meet new challenges and costs, as well as hold suitable levels of reserves for a council of our size it’s important we budget correctly.”
Among the costs that must be covered in the coming year are the extra work required to complete the skatepark on Tod’s Piece; preparation for granting the Freedom of Uppingham to the 2nd Royal Anglian Regiment based at Kendrew Barracks, which will take place on May 3; and required pension contributions for paid council staff.
In Oakham, councillors intend to increase the precept by two per cent. This will mean a band D property in Oakham will pay £54.47 for the year; an increase of £1.07, or 2p a week, on the current precept of £53.40. The council’s total budget will be £244,689.
A statement on the council website said: “The council’s budget has increased but members have agreed that any difference between income and expenditure will be met by use of some of the council’s reserves.”
In both Stamford and Market Deeping the town councils have decided not to make any changes to their precepts. But in Bourne, councillors have gone against the grain and voted to reduce their precept by four per cent.
Despite the decrease the council has allocated funds for youth and leisure facilities, more waste bins, the Bourne2Play campaign and a shopwatch scheme.
If the decrease is approved on Tuesday, the average band D household would pay £25.44 per year, down by £1.10 from £26.54. The council’s overall budget for 2016/17 will be £131,223.
Mayor of Bourne Philip Knowles said: “The decision reflects the determination of the new council, which came together last May, to be more proactive in creating and supporting initiatives in Bourne designed to improve the quality of life in the town, without increasing the costs to our householders.
“We recognise that the reduction of four per cent is not substantial in terms of money, because the precept is quite small, but the reduction represents our desire to buck the council tax trend whilst offering further services to the town.
“The initiatives we plan to support in the next year will seek to improve security and safety, enhance its environment and allocate resources in Bourne to facilities particularly those for our younger residents.”
A working party spent months reviewing the council’s budgeting process and came up with a plan that will allow for a reduction in rates while still ensuring money is spent around the town.
Among the projects that will receive funding this year are:
• Increased CCTV coverage.
• Increased security through the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce-led shopwatch scheme.
• More waste bins in an attempt to combat the problem of dog fouling.
• Youth and leisure facilities in the town.
• Support towards events taking place in 2016.
The council has also pledged to further support the Bourne2Play charity, which is campaigning to build a new play area on the Wellhead.