During 2013 the Parish Council has had to meet some large costs, in particular for the removal of the Japanese knotweed on the Green behind the Village Hall and for extensive maintenance work on all the trees. While we had been building up a contingency in anticipation of the latter, the costs on the knotweed were high and unexpected, and have severely depleted our contingency.
The costs of looking after the trees, Greens and verges is high – £8,650 of our £14,000 Precept in 2012/13 was budgeted for maintenance of the Greens, verges, trees, burial grounds and playing field – and because of the knotweed the actual expenditure will be even higher. But these costs are essential – the trees and Greens contribute greatly to the overall look and attractiveness of Badby which we all value and wish to preserve.
However, the fact is that the level of our contingency at the end of this financial year will not be sufficient to ensure that future major or emergency work could be undertaken. This is a particular worry in respect to the chestnut trees on The Green, whose condition will inevitably deteriorate. The Parish Council has discussed these matters at its meetings. It has looked at its finances over the next 4 years and has concluded that two areas of its discussions, although not affecting the village immediately, should be raised now and views and comments sought.
The Parish Council funds must be replenished so that, were there to be a need for further major unexpected expenditure, then that could be met. The Parish Council has looked to see where savings can be made, and some savings have been achieved through cuts in costs and by new contracts for work. In contrast to larger Councils, over 60% of our expenditure goes on essential services – the greens, trees, burial grounds, playing field and lighting – with limited discretionary spending, so the opportunity for making significant savings is limited.
Regretfully, therefore, the Parish Council has decided that from next April it needs to raise the Precept (the portion of the Council Tax paid by each house that is used to fund the Parish Council) over the next three years to rebuild a contingency for future costs. We plan to raise the Precept by £1,500 in 2014/15 (around 10%) with the expectation of further increases of £750 in each of 2015/16 and 2016/17 (these will be subject to review in the light of any changes before then). The decision is not one that the Parish Council has taken easily – the precept forms only a small part of the total Council Tax we each pay, but we are very aware that, in the current economy, any increase will hit families and individuals. But the Parish Council concluded that it is essential if it is to be able to continue to manage and maintain the village.
We would be pleased to hear comments from any parishioner. Please send them to the Clerk, Sharon Foster, 1 London Road, Daventry, NN11 4DA, or submit below
Click here for details of the precept
Click here for details of the 4 year plan
Updated 17th January 2014