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Rates going up by £7 - but it could have been worse

Created on 24/12/2016 @ 09:35
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Welshpool residents can expect to pay an additional £7 per household next year after the Town Council agreed to a rate increase of 5.6%.

Further grant aid cuts from Powys County Council of £26,000, inflation of £16,000 and a potential rates increase of £9,000 on council buildings saw the Town Council needing to find an additional £52,000 next year.

A re-balancing of the way the Town Council provides services has resulted in the increase being limited to only £20,000 or rate payers would have been asked to cough up an additional 13.5% or £17.80 per Band D property.

In his annual budget report Town Clerk Robert Robinson said: “Band D property owners would have been paying £17.80 extra not £7.69 if the council had not taken steps to fill the shortfall.

“The Council has seen grant aid from Powys County Council cut again this year by £26,868 - £52,000 over 2 years.  This along with inflation (at 2%) of £16,000 and a possible rates increase on our buildings of £9,000 sees the council needing £52,000 extra. 

“By rebalancing the way some services are funded the council has ensured that the increase is limited to £20,000 without any effect on the service delivery it is offering.”

Mr Robinson said a number of things had been done, including LED lighting to the Town Hall markets and external lighting trimming expenditure and doing more work for other agencies for a fee. But he said the biggest way of keeping costs down year on year had been a decision to withdraw from the Local Authority Pension Scheme back in 2007.

The council withdrew from the Local Authority Pension Scheme which was costing so much that services would have had to be cut.  This applies today with staff on a business scheme which continues to save the council approximately £85,000 per year.

“Without this action Welshpool today would not have public toilets, a tourist information office, the street scene or indeed a day centre.

“There is no provision for taking over any new services in the budget, anything new will have to be assessed on merit at the time.  The issue of recycling is one such service the council is concerned about.

“The budget has not only allowed for continuing all services it delivers but has just taken over the street scene and is planning a Festival of Sport next year.”    

The Mayor, Councillor Steve Kaye said: “I think the Council has yet again produced a sensible budget and has taken a sensible approach to the town’s needs.

“By listening to our residents we get a strong feel as to what we should be doing.  By taking a business approach with the council we are able to delivery services to a high standard as economically as other top councils in the UK,”

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