Sidmouth town council increases budget 16 per cent

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An extra 15 pence a week on residents’ council tax bills will save civic leaders from future budget freezes and cover costs handed down from other authorities.

Town councillors unanimously voted in favour of the 16 per cent rise after hearing such a move next year was likely to be prevented by central government.

They also agreed the funds would have to be stretched further if responsibilities are handed down from other cash-strapped councils.

Councillor Ann Liverton, who proposed the move, said: “District and county budgets are going to be slammed this year, and we should expect (a budget increase) to be capped at two per cent for next year.”

She said that anything beyond the statutory obligations of district and county councils would not be a priority, and that the town council would be expected to take up the slack.

Cllr Graham Liverton said: “It’s the era of the town council - future generations will thank us for doing it.”

Each year the council draws up a plan of what it what it wants to develop and then sets its budget – known as a precept – accordingly.

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The council’s slice of residents’ overall council tax bills was set at £55.85 for a band D property.

The figure is up from £47.89 last year, a rise of 15 pence per week that gives a total of £400,000.

Town council treasurer Jeff Turner suggested £25,000 should be allocated to ‘special projects’ such as the Jurassic Coast Link, maintaining Pennington Point, and a potential handover of the Manor Pavilion from the district to town council.

He said each would require substantial sums of money, but making specific claims would lead agencies to believe they were entitled to the amount.

Councillors agreed that the proposed amount may not be enough and agreed to double it because the exact costs were unclear.

Despite the increase in the budget, Cllr Chris Wale said: “This represents good value – we are very proactive, everyone here has their heart and soul in the town”

He said they are being sensible budgeting so much for special projects that would not receive the attention of other local authorities.

A household’s total council tax bill is made up of payments to town, district and county councils, as well as fire and police services.

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