Following various comments we have received it has become apparent there is concern amongst parishioners regarding the increase of the precept for financial year 2018/19. The precept has been increased by £6,250 or 13.07%.
It was decided to publish a chairman’s statement to address these concerns which in no way was intended to apportion blame to any particular budget area; merely to highlight some of the significant areas of increase.
The electoral budget has been increased from £500 to £2,000 per year, this contributes 24% of the overall increase. This was exceptional as a mid-term election has not occurred in recent history. The usual practice of collecting £500 per annum for the election reserve has always been sufficient to cover the cost of an election every 4 years; usually coinciding with the general election this is cheaper as costs are shared with other authorities.
Personnel costs have increased by £3,212, this contributes 51% of the overall increase. Under the terms of my contract of employment I was due a one point pay scale increase. In line with the recommended Nation Association of Local Councils Model Contract of Employment this also meant I would not be able to claim any overtime. The average amount of overtime claimed for the previous twelve month period was 2.2 hours per week. Reallocation of government funding causing reductions to the frequency and quality of services previously provided by the Principal Authority and the County Council have led to the devolution of some services to the Local Council level i.e. Town & Parish Councils. To enable the continuation of services expected and to fund the time required to administer these provisions it was agreed by Bishopsteignton Parish Council Finance & Personnel Committee to recommend that clerical hours be increased by 2.5 hours per week. In order to cope with the new demands of devolution and ever changing legislation it was agreed for me to gain the qualification of CiLCA (Certificate in Local Council Administration). This is a well recognised qualification in local government and will enable the Council to gain a general power of competence and apply for a quality council status. To enable this the Council have agreed to 2 hours extra per week to cover study time and I will be matching this with my own time. This allocation is only required for a 12 month period; the time given by the governing body for the qualification to be achieved. Therefore future precept budgets will not need to include this amount.
Another exceptional increase for the coming year is an additional £2,000 to Countryside & Recreation budget to cover the requirement for a full parish tree survey and any subsequent works required. This represents 32% of the increase.
Clearly the above percentage increases add up to more than 100% but savings were made elsewhere in the budget to help keep the overall increase down.
There are suggestions amongst parishioners we could utilise part of our unrestricted funds to accommodate these rises but this is in place to cope with emergencies such as felling of the chestnut tree at The Hump car park. How much we hold is down to how risk adverse Parish Council members are but this figure has always proven to be about right.
Bishopsteignton is a large Parish which is lucky to have many varied assets such as recreation land, play areas, toilets, cemetery, etc. requiring management and maintence to keep them in the condition we would like to see.