This is my first post of the new year, so happy new year.
Tuesday evening the Town Council met to decide the Council's annual budget for the financial year 2012/13.
The headline figures are that the overall budget was raised from £182,287 to £182,749with a Council tax increase of 3% or £1.25 per year or 2.5pence a week.
The changes in the budget was minimal, the Council has included an additional £5000 for environmental improvements, such as street cleaning, this to mitigate the cuts made by the Conservative Mendip District Council, there is also a hope to improve grass cutting, this is to be negotiated with our contractor, also as a result of cuts made by the Conservative Mendip Council.
The Town Council has also agreed to fund two new grit bins and two dog litter bins to be fitted in Shepton, a small budget has been allocated to partnership fund replacement of slabs in the Town Centre.
The Community grants has been divided in two, with £1000 for the Digital Arts Festival and £1000 for general community grants, there is no increase in the grant budget.
The other area of change was the commitment to the Skate Park in West Shepton, we set a new fund of £7000 for maintenance and other works and put aside £20,000 from reserves, this only to be drawn if the community group is successful with raising £200,000 for the new Skate Park.
The final change was to increase the parish council election contingency by £500.
The savings were; as the Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme has ended saving £5500,£5000 was not included in the Civic Hall fund and Contingencies was reduced by £5000.
There were a number of budgets that were underspent from this financial year that have been used for reserves; ShopJacket a regeneration scheme never happened this was £4,450, Highways budget this was £5000, work on the redundant telephone boxes £1500 and it is expected that there will be £9000 of underspent contingencies.
The Town Council decided to continue the funding for CCTV, I with two other councillors wanted this budget to fund youth services in Shepton, these youth services are to be axed by the Conservative County Council, Shepton will be without a professional youth service that offers help for young people, with issues like self esteem issues, peer pressure, sexual health etc.
The other area of concern is there is no budget to celebrate the Jubilee or for allotment expansion, this budget is not overly expansionary, it covers the services that we currently fund, with the additional demanded Skate Park and additional spend on MDC environmental cuts, so it looks like for the first time in my memory the Council is likely to spend all of it's budget, this will make next year interesting.