Councillors are set to agree a series of financial reports around Burnley Council’s proposed budget for the coming year and how it will meet its financial challenges over future years, whilst continuing to deliver high-quality services.
The papers also set out investment in major projects over the next five years and a broad approach to balancing the books.
The reports also set out details of the financial implications of the council’s decision to invest in the future of the borough through major schemes such as the creation of student accommodation in Sandygate and the Pioneer Place cinema and leisure complex, as well as other major projects.
It outlines five new schemes to be included in the capital programme – improvements at Lockyer Avenue and Fennyfold playing fields; lower St James Street Historic Action Zone; Padiham Town Hall improvements; Finsley Wharf community project; and new lighting equipment at the Mechanics Theatre.
There are also proposals to set aside £50,000 to fund initiatives to help tackle climate change. These will build on the existing work to cut the council’s carbon footprint including encouraging greater use of electric vehicles, planting more trees and making council-owned property more energy efficient.
Other areas of investment proposed include approximately £15,000 to investigate reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides on council land and £25,000 for a pilot scheme to trial the reintroduction of community skips.
The national government has determined how far district councils such as Burnley can increase the level of council tax. The proposed budget would see Burnley Council working to the limit set nationally, which would mean an increase in household council tax bills of 1.99 per cent.
This approach is in line with that being taken by many other councils and means that Burnley Council’s share of the council tax bill for a Band D property would be £306.19 for the year – an increase of £5.97 from the current level.
The majority of the full council tax bill for a household is made up of payments to Lancashire County Council (to cover work such as education, social services and highways), the police, fire authority and – in areas with a town or parish council – a ‘precept’ to cover their running costs.
Councillor Margaret Lishman, the council’s executive member for resources and performance management, said: “The council recognises the impact that council tax has on local residents and we will always take their ability to pay into consideration when setting council tax levels.
“We’ve kept any increase as low as possible while ensuring we can maintain essential services for our residents. We will also ensure there is help and support for those that need it, the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Coun. Lishman added: “The new administration has put investing in our borough’s future as its key priority, making it a place where people want to live where businesses choose to invest, and doing our bit to tackle climate change.
“Our budget for the next year, and for years to come, reflects that ambition. We will continue to balance the need to be financially sound and secure with our determination to provide high class services to our residents.”
The reports will go to the council’s executive on February 17th for debate and then on to a meeting of the full council on 26th February for approval and to set the budget for 2020/21.