Edenbridge Town Council draft budget and proposed Precept for 2020/21
At the Finance Committee’s December meeting it considered the draft budget and Precept for 2020/21 and agreed to recommend for adoption at the Town Council’s meeting on 27 January an annual Precept increase from £513,295 to £554,973. This means a band D property will be £150.10 per year; an annual increase of £5.77 or 0.48p per calendar month, (less than a second-class postage stamp). Click here for summary view of the budget.
The Council is funded by the proportion of the Council Tax known as the Precept and other sources of income such as grants. The Precept calculation is based on a band D proportion and multiplied by the tax base (a figure issued by the district council based on the number of Council Tax paying properties).
At an extra-ordinary meeting of the Town Council on 25 November 2019, different Precept scenarios and the impact of these to the Town Council’s General Reserves were considered. The current year would see £65k movement from the General Reserves to support the expenditure. The Town Council carefully considered its budget, the services it provides for the community, the provision and maintenance of its Open Spaces, buildings and any future projects with a view to keeping increases to a minimum.
Edenbridge is unusual in that it owns a lot of the town’s open spaces and public buildings and this adds pressure when balancing the high level of standards residents have come to expect and deserve and the budget. For example, the cost of maintaining its assets, providing the well-maintained open spaces and facilities is about 60% of its budget. (The Council owns and manages its own open spaces: Stangrove Park; the Recreation Ground; Mowshurst, Blossoms Park; Market Yard Car Park, the cemetery, allotments, public toilets and buildings – Doggetts Barn; Rickards Hall; Church House; the Pavilion; Nomads; Mowshurst Barn; the Depot).
For several years Government austerity has meant staff costs had not been commensurate to the cost of living/inflation increases and the historic differences had been rectified this year. Savings are expected from a combination of some administration roles and efficiencies from improved IT systems
The Council’s 10 and 30 year maintenance plans for its buildings, open spaces and play areas show £1.3m planned maintenance over the next five years and relies on the Precept contribution to fund this. Some future projects may be eligible for CIL funding which would reduce the need for Precept funding.
The budget, to maintain existing services, was not sustainable and whilst the Council will continue to seek efficiencies the painful choice was either cutting services or increasing the Precept. Members agreed that the Precept should increase by 4%.
The draft budget is published on the website (click here). The full Council will receive the recommendation on 27 January to formally adopt it.