Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Screw it, just do it!- Frodsham Town Council and setting the budget

Richard Branson's biography contains pithy phrases like 'Screw it, just do it!'

Well this epithet could well have been written for Frodsham Town Council last night.

Exceptionally Frodsham Town Council had been given permission by Cheshire West and Chester Council to set its budget and its element of the Council Tax later than normal so it could learn whether CWaC would be likely to adopt the special expenses regime which would see the Council Tax charged to Frodsham residents drop by around £8.33 on a Band D property.  This is around 0.7% of the tax taking by CWaC.

However the Town Council, by a sizeable majority, decided not to wait and see and chose to set its budget last night - effectively taking the risk that CWaC may not adopt this special expenses regime.   Even if the Town Council had waited until the 9 February and learnt what CWaC's Executive was recommending there would still have been an element of risk - as CWaC sets its budget at its Council meeting on 23 February.

The Town Council did choose to raise its element of the Council Tax by £8.33 per Band D resident.  An influencing factor was the prospect of CWaC lowering its charge on Frodsham residents by the same amount - and thus netting to a nil position - however the real debate was over the Council's ambitious plans to recruit a Town Manager.  The recruitment of a 'Mr or Ms Frodsham' whose sole role in life would be the promotion of Frodsham in all its guises - from the Community to the Main Street - was seen by the majority as building in the capacity to start delivering on a number of projects.  This budget also includes money to replace the Christmas lights and a contribution to funding CCTV in Frodsham.

Interestingly - notwithstanding this £8.33 rise - on current figures and expectations the Council Tax paid by Frodsham residents could well end up the lowest of all CWaC's towns and lower than Helsby.

Figures provided to Frodsham Town Council by CWaC suggest that Frodsham resident's Council Tax Bill may look like this:

Frodsham Town Council area – Band D
CW&C base charge £1,246.26 0.7% decrease (£8.33 reduction)
CW&C Special expense £0.00    
Frodsham Town Council £38.55 27.6% increase (£8.33 increase)
Cheshire Police Authority £144.53 0.0% change Assuming a nil increase
Cheshire Fire Authority £66.43 0.0% change Assuming a nil increase
Total Council Tax £1,495.77 0.0% change  

At this stage no-one knows what the Police or Fire Authorities are likely to do.

The comparator figures, again provided by CWaC to FTC are as follows:

Local Council Precept CW&C Indicative base CTAX CW&C Indicative Special Expense Charge Total
Frodsham £38.55 £1,246.26 £0.00 £1,284.81
Winsford £36.46 £1,246.26 £3.62 £1,286.34
Northwich £73.66 £1,246.26 £12.06 £1,331.98
Neston £32.61 £1,246.26 £12.74 £1,291.61
Helsby £42.67 £1,246.26 £1.59 £1,290.52

It should be noted that some of the Local Council precept figures are from 2011-12 and some from 2012-13 and there may be minor changes to the special expenses figures - but this was the best data provided to FTC by CWaC to assist it in setting its budget.