Local Liberal Democrats have warned Bristol is missing out on nearly £5 million of council services every year because of inaccurate council tax calculations.
For the last two years the Liberal Democrats have pointed out a significant underestimate in the expected council tax income of between £3 million and £5 million. In both years the party has been proven right and in the budget proposals this year, Lib Dems have detected the same error. By using figures that have been set far too low, the council is forced to vote on a budget that does not accurately predict what local services it can afford. Despite repeated requests for an explanation the Lib Dems have been told no discussion of the topic will be considered.
The revelation of the missing millions from the budget comes after a campaign by local Lib Dems brought to light how £8.3 million of taxpayer cash used to help pay for Bristol's year as European Green Capital has not been fully disclosed.
The Lib Dems are urging the mayor to think again and to give Bristol a better, fairer deal, instead of a poorly calculated budget that will lead to excessive cuts in services.
Cllr Gary Hopkins, Lib Dem Group Leader said:
"It is scandalous that every year, Bristol residents suffer because the mayor's council tax calculations have under-estimated how much money the council would receive. Despite repeated and timely requests for information, councillors from all parties have been refused permission to debate about the likely missing millions from the accounts. By continually refusing to accept that extra council tax income would eventually become available, it means we miss out on millions in the budget that could be spent on protecting the vulnerable, improving our public transport and cleaning up litter from our streets.
"The entire budget process under the mayor's regime is regrettably an empty exercise. To the dismay of many local residents the mayor has in recent years ignored a multitude of passed budget amendments. Although we have offered sensible amendments to finally complete the funding of both the South Bristol Recycling Centre and East Bristol Swimming Pool it has felt like Groundhog Day in doing so; we suggested these amendments last year but have seen no progress to date."
Dr Kay Barnard, Lib Dem mayoral candidate added:
"What Bristolians will feel most upset by is that it could all have been avoided. The simplest way to avoid this situation is for the mayor to listen to the concerns my Lib Dem colleagues have legitimately raised year on year. Undeterred by these grossly inaccurate figures, we have done the responsible thing and put in fully funded amendments to help make a real difference to the lives of Bristolians across the city."