Friday, February 18, 2011

HDC still addicted to spending reserves

The budget report shows how Conservative run HDC is still addicted to spending reserves.
The shortfall met from reserves does one thing and that means the cuts are put off for another day. The saving grace is the New Homes Bonus which HDC is taking for itself. This still means a further £2 million of "savings still required" have to be made. This means with £6.6 million of savings already proposed the total will be £8.6 million cut.

By using these reserves to stop more cuts being made this is putting decisions off to another year. Possibly when the Council is merged.

Conservative run HDC also didn't get their forecasts right on the Local Government Settlement.
As can be seen from the above picture, even the Council got the Revenue Support Grant wrong. These cuts in taxpayer funding are even deeper than forecast with HDC looking to lose £4.2 million form what they thought in February 2010 to what they thing now. £12.9 million to £8.7 million.

The saving grace for HDC is the New Homes Grant Bonus. This new bonus for allowing new homes to be built in an area will be substantial.
The budget gives the figure of £940,000 in 2011/12 rising to £3.337 million by 2015/16. The budget report waffles on about this being a grant rather than a bonus. The report says:
Conservative controlled HDC is taking the money for themselves. This isn't what the money is for. As Grant Shapps said:
Nothing in this report about communities and councils working together. Just HDC gets this money! HDC grabbing this money is wrong. The Conservative run HDC is robbing St Neots of money intended for St Neots and all the other development areas in Huntingdonshire.

In an effort to get around not having a referendum on increasing Council Tax HDC has come up with ideas to tax us through Conservative Stealth Taxes. In part of the report entitles: "Town and Parish Councils" it says:
CCTV will only be kept going if Town Council taxpayers fund these.
Maintaining Parks services will mean either contributions from the Town Council taxpayer to fund these or HDC will abandon the service?
Mitigating increases in car park charges will mean contributions from the Town Council taxpayer. Why not give the car parks to the Town Councils to run?
Mitigating reduction grounds maintenance standards will mean the Town Council will have to pay more and the Town Council taxpayer will have higher bills to pay for this.
Taking over Community Grants will mean more money spent by the Town Council to support these grants. Again higher council tax but not on HDCs numbers.
Subsidising provision of Customer Service Centres. Again something HDC should provide being foisted onto the local council taxpayer.
Supporting Town Centre Partnerships is another Conservative stealth tax on the St Neots council taxpayer.

The effect of this is to raise the Council Tax at Town Council levels whilst HDC can shout about low Council Tax increases. Is this how the Conservatives work? The Conservatives don't have the balls to have a referendum over Council Tax. All these "opportunities" are designed to get the numbers down for HDC and is just another way of taxing the council taxpayer by stealth!

And nearly finally:
The Leisure Centres have been reported as "nearly making a profit" and costing "£0.8 million". The budget is where I look for how much each Leisure Centre is costing the Council Taxpayer. Nearly £2.9 million. How much has the much vaunted £2.9 million in spending on St Neots Leisure Centre cut the budget? Answer: £39,000. 

And finally....
HDC has been saved by the New Homes Bonus. This is intended for communities to have money to improve their areas. HDC has snatched this money and is robbing St Neots money intended for it. St Neots could do much with this short term money to help alleviate some social problems. If the New Homes Bonus is just going to be used by HDC to prop up their budget this will not be a bonus for St Neots who will be subsidising the Conservative run HDC. So what are our St Neots Conservative Councillors going to do about this? Vote the budget through!

No comments: