Council gets bigger
IN ORDER to find a further £26,498 this year, including wages for a new deputy clerk, Sidmouth Town Council has raised its precept by 10.8 per cent.
IN ORDER to find a further £26,498 this year, including wages for a new deputy clerk, Sidmouth Town Council has raised its precept by 10.8 per cent.It will add 1p a day to the council tax bill for every person living in the town and represents a £37.55 parish tax - up £3.69 - on a Band D property.Hefty rises in maintenance charges by East Devon District Council's StreetScene have added to outgoings, along with a 4.3 per cent allowance for the rate of inflation. Staff salaries for 2008/9 account for £97,200; plus £15,000 for pensions, out of the total £261,048 the council needs to fund its obligations. This includes a £25,000 provision for a deputy clerk to be taken on to assist town clerk Trina Jarrett, who has been given 12 extra days' leave to fulfil the role of president of the Society of Local Council Clerks from October.Councillor Tony Reed said: "I wonder if this rush to get another tier of management for this place is timely."I don't like precepts being raised if you can't argue soundly why."From the taxpayer's point of view, this year will be a bad year for everyone. "I question whether this provision, which will have an impact on the budget, is timely."Chairman Councillor Tom Cox said the decision to appoint a deputy had already been made."The question of what it costs to have staff is irrelevant once you employ them. It is how you use them. We will clearly have to rethink how we run things in future by taking on someone in such a key position."Councillor Ann Liverton added: "People expect excellence from this council and if we do anything we do it very well indeed."We can't expect to add all the time to the clerk's workload and keep up that excellence. One way is to provide her the wherewithal to get everything done we demand." l More budget news next week.