Any resident with an idle moment can take part in the York Council’s annual budget quiz. A simulator allows residents to set council tax levels and public service priorities.
It is a slight improvement on playing scrabble on the wet Sunday afternoon but has little in common with real budget setting and the horse trading that goes on in a “balanced” Council. One reason is that officials are too scared to include options like having fewer Councillors or reducing senior officer pay levels.
Most significantly they say little about the Councils accumulated debt omitting to remind residents that 13% of what they fork out in Council Tax goes to pay interest charges on past borrowing.
There are options available which could have an immediate effect in freeing up money for under pressure street services like road repairs.
One example is the Guildhall business centre project which is currently set to cost £15 million. It could be restructured to encourage private sector investment.
Once spent, of course, there is usually no way back. But some taxpayers may feel that higher admission charges at York’s new Community Stadium might be one way of clawing back some of the £13 million taxpayers investment in the project.
You won’t, of course, find those options like these listed on the Councils web site.