RESIDENTS in Huntingdonshire will see a 3.5 per cent increase in the amount they pay for district council services from April.

Huntingdonshire District Council looks set to approve the Council Tax rise, which will add an extra £4.34 per year on to the district council element of the bill for Band D properties, on February 22. The increase is at the limit expected to be imposed by the Government. Any more and the local authority could be forced to hold a referendum.

For 2012/13, householders will be asked to pay £128.51 for HDC's share, up from £124.17 for 2011/12.

The rise will see the council collect an additional £344,000 in Council Tax income compared to last year.

HDC is also set to receive £1.9million from the Government for its share of the New Homes Bonus.

A £188,000 cut in funding for the voluntary sector has been shelved from this year's budget, though it is predicted to kick in from 2013. Around £1.3m will also be ringfenced for households with disabled children and elderly people who need grants to adapt homes.

Councillor Jonathan Gray, portfolio holder for finance, said: "In common with public sector generally, HDC is facing considerable reductions in its funding. The proposed below-inflation Council Tax rise is a balance that protects the long-term interests of the taxpayer while maintaining key support services for vulnerable people."

Refurbishment of St Ives One Leisure will cost the council £3m, though HDC is expecting to make money back on the investment over nine years.

Construction work for Huntingdon's £3.5m multi-storey car par, part of a major refurbishment project, is due to start next year.

Funding of £219,000 has been set aside for CCTV after partner agencies, including town and parish councils, agreed to help cover the costs.

Some funds have also been set aside for an inquiry into the A14 and for commercial development of St Neots town centre.

A 'handful' of job cuts among council staff is expected in 2012/13. The council's joint managing director, Terry Parker, refused to give an exact number, though he insisted the majority would be through natural wastage.

Staff will have a pay freeze for the third year running.

Council executive leader Jason Ablewhite said: "I am pleased to say that our savings plan is running ahead of where we expected. We have done well to maintain building in the district, contributing to the economy and providing much-needed homes