Zoe Metcalfe has requested an “urgent meeting” with the secretary of state for local government Michael Gove after being told she can only raise the fire service’s council tax precept by a maximum of 3%.
York and North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is currently consulting on what the annual police and fire precepts should be from April.
She has put forward increases of 2.99%, 6.2% and 9.2% as well as a precept freeze.
For Band D properties a 2.99% increase would see an extra £2.41 added onto council tax bills to pay for the fire service.
But Ms Metcalfe warned this would be inadequate due to rising inflationary costs and staff pay awards.
According to a report that went before councillors at a meeting of the police, fire and crime panel in Northallerton this afternoon, four firefighter in Harrogate will lose their jobs in April to save £210,000.
From April 2025, a further four firefighter jobs will go in Scarborough to save £215,000 as well as seven other members of staff across the county saving another £375,000.
A report described the fire service’s finances as “exceptionally tight”.
Around half of the crime commissioner’s budget comes from council tax with a government grant making up the rest.
Commissioner Metcalfe told councillors she was “really disappointed” to discover the fire precept can be raised by a maximum of 3%, whereas she said a 5% rise “would make such a difference.”
However, a rise of more than 3% would require a public referendum.
She said: “I have asked for an urgent meeting with Michael Gove to have a conversation so we can address this and so they can see the real impact it has on North Yorkshire’s fire and rescue service.”
“I’ve always fought really hard to get additional funding and I really hope we can turn it around this time. Unfortunately inflation has had such an impact.”
Commissioner Metcalfe received support from councillors including Conservative council leader Carl Les who said the panel would be prepared to write a letter of support to government that asks for more “flexibility” in the council tax precept.
Cllr Lindsay Burr, who represents Malton as an independent, said the financial situation for the fire service gets “grimmer and grimmer and grimmer”.
She said: “We know you’re trying to do your best. We had horrific floods in Malton and who was there? The fire brigade. It’s such a service that we really depend on. This cannot go on. You can only cut so far.”
Conservative councillor for Romanby, Peter Wilkinson, added: “When setting the budget every year it seems to get worse or rather than better.”
Further details about the precept is available on the following website, with the consultation open until January 21: http://www.tellcommissionerzoe.co.uk/