Scrutiny councillors at South Holland District Council are calling on leaders to keep pushing for reform around how drainage boards are funded as a near 3% rise in council tax could be absorbed by the costs.
Unlike most other councils across the country, SHDC is charged a levy by five separate Internal Drainage Boards across the district with the precepts this year increasing by 5.97% and taking up 18.47% of the authority’s council tax budget.
Council leaders at SHDC are currently in talks with the government to try to get the IDBs funded nationally, while previous suggestions by authorities have asked for the drainage boards to be considered separate to district tax in the same way that policing is for instance.
In this year’s budget the council will be collecting an extra £156,000 for the boards – absorbing the £4.95 increase SHDC’s own budget proposes for the average band D property and effectively wiping out the 2.83% rise.
Independent Councillor Chris Brewis said conversations with council leader Lord Gary Porter were looking “optimistic” and asked if the funds could be freed up for other services if they were taken out of the council’s hands.
“We are more affected than [many other areas], we are uniquely affected which suggests first of all that we could be ignored nationally but secondly if they were to address it it wouldn’t cause a huge embarrassment.
“It’s a gross injustice and the fact that these could, largely through no fault of their own, go up 6% reduces our ability to do anything.”
The IDBs are currently facing a series of increased costs due to a government-forced switch from red diesel to white in a bid to cut emissions.
The move is expected to create a national £3million rise in costs.
Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman has already raised the issue in the House of Commons.
During the meeting on Thursday night, councillors also called for more to be done to ensure the staffing resources are available to cover services “by any means necessary”.