Scrutiny councillors at East Lindsey District Council have called a 3.49% rise in council tax in 2021-22 “small” and trivial, hitting out at historical decisions not to increase rates.
The authority’s plans will see the council’s precept rise by £4.95 a year – an extra 9.5p on a Band D property.
ELDC remains one of the lowest rates in the county and its precept makes up 8% of the overall bill, with the rest going to county council, the drainage boards and police and crime commissioner.
At a meeting of the council’s overview committee on Tuesday, Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said: “3% on a small amount is footling really, percentages don’t mean a huge amount really do they?”
“The claim that we’re the cheapest place in the East Midlands was pathetic really, it doesn’t matter. If people need the services we need to charge for them.”
“We did start from a low base and we do have to be grown up about it, things are costing more money and if we want those services, we have to pay for them don’t we?”
She, and other councillors, called for the breakdown of where council tax goes to be made clearer – particularly around how much went to the local drainage boards.
Committee Chairman Councillor Fiona-Martin said a number of years without percentage increases “didn’t actually do us any favours”.
“Once you have the end of the day, in some stages you then have a rather large increase because you’ve got so far behind everybody else and you can’t deliver services without the resources to do so,” she said.
Council bosses say the 2021-22 budget looks at redressing the imbalance created by the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the economic recovery.
Council officer Adrian Sibley told councillors that one saving grace for the authority this year included a delay in the fairer funding review for a year, meaning any predicted shortfalls from that could be carried over into the next year and further savings can be found in the meantime.
Councillor Richard Fry, finance portfolio holder for ELDC said: “We all know we have been, and still are, going through challenging times and so, this is not a normal budget at all. What we’re focusing on pretty much at the heart of this project is economic recovery.”
The budget includes extra income from commercial activities, ongoing savings from reduced spending on supplies and services as well as the new Strategic Alliance and increased capital investment in council assets.
Boston Borough Council has also approved an almost £5 council tax hike for 2021/22, but are looking at a deficit of £700,000 in future years.
South Holland also going for £4.95 (2.75%), South Kesteven going for a round £5 (3.06%) and Lincoln increasing by £5.31 (1.9%).
Lincolnshire County Council accepted a 1.99% rise, but declined to take an extra 3% for its adult social care precept. However, North East Lincolnshire has so far had no issues with taking the full 4.98% rise.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is seeking to hike his share of tax by 5.9% (20-26p extra per week).