TAXPAYERS will be saddled with almost £90m in extra debt by Basildon Council if the planned budget is approved.

The council is looking to raise council tax by 2.99 per cent and raise borrowing to almost £280million.

The money will be used to pay for more housing, commercial investment opportunities and council services.

As part of the budget the council is looking at spending £9million on swimming, with sites in Billericay, Pitsea and Laindon being considered.

Councillor Stuart Sullivan, chairman of the corporate resources committee, said: “We recognise there is a shortage of swimming provision in the borough, so we want to review whether there is scope for additional facilities in Laindon, Pitsea and Billericay.

Basildon Standard:

Committee chair - Stuart Sullivan

“The continued significant reduction in Government funding means that there is a gap between our expenditure and resources, which is why we are committed to securing value for money in the delivery of all council services and seeking innovative financial solutions to the challenges we face. “Income generation is essential, including continuing to prudently invest in the commercial property market.”

He refused to specify the properties which could be bought with borrowed cash but the council is aiming to use any profits made to fund services.

Any losses will be funded by taxpayers.

The council estimates its net debt will be £191.6million by April and £279.2million by next March.

The, if approved, council tax rise of 2.99 per cent will equate to about £8.50 extra per year for the average property - or £278 on average for this part of the council tax.

Even with more money borrowed and more tax received the council estimates it will have a £3.1million shortfall by 2022/23 meaning either costs such as wages or services would need to be cut, tax increased or income grown.

The council is hoping by borrowing now the council can cover the loan fees and make enough money to help fund the gap in services.

The grants from Government have been slashed again.