Thame Town Council Budget 2017-18
In preparing its budget for 2017-18, Thame Town Council has again looked hard at where it can make savings (both in terms of cuts and further efficiencies), while at the same time providing the projects, functions and services that the community of Thame expect to be delivered.
The Budget Working Group set a target of a maximum increase in precept (i.e. the proportion of overall Council Tax that is paid by Thame residents specifically for the projects, functions and services to be normally delivered by Thame Town Council) of 1.99%. Each 1% increase provides around £6,000 of additional precept.
Two new projects have been identified for 2017-18, with seed funding of £5,000 to be provided for a new community led town-wide music festival and £5,000 towards flood prevention measures for the Cuttle Brook.
The Town Council has also decided to step in and assist on three other Thame based services, where Government austerity has led to direct cuts being made by Oxfordshire County Council. £10,000 each is allocated to the Red Kite Children’s Centre and the Thame and District Day Centre. £5,000 is allocated to help define a potential new around town bus service. This is in effect a partial devolution of services as part of the localism initiative.
There have been further additional cost pressures through the need to make the role of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer full time and to cover the full year costs for the newly recruited Trainee Maintenance Assistant.
The increase in tax base this year (effectively the number of houses in Thame) has provided an additional £11,250 of precept.
Various savings have been identified with the main ones being a reduction in the Localism Fund (given the three specific services now funded more locally) and the fact that the Freedom Parade is only held once every four years so doesn’t require full funding. A stretching target to increase revenue for hiring out of the Town Hall Chamber / Meeting Room has also been adopted. Numerous other adjustments, both up and down, have been made to reflect realistic cost / revenue expectations.
For the second year running, the Town Council will also primarily call on its Capital Reserves for capital projects, rather than funding through the precept. But this cannot be sustained beyond the short term.
We always welcome suggestions from residents on ways that we can improve our budgeting still further.
The net effect of all the above change is that for the financial year 2017-18 the underlying precept increase for normally provided projects, functions and services is 1.99% (without the impact of the devolved services from Oxfordshire County Council). This equates to an extra £2.72p per annum or around 5p per week (for the average Band D household).
However, when the additional £25,000 of funding for the Children’s, Elderly and Transport services formerly funded by Oxfordshire County Council is taken into account, the full precept increase is 6.1%, which equates to an extra £8.36p per annum or around 16p per week (for the average Band D household).
In 2017-18, the average whole household (i.e. Band D) will contribute £2.80 per week (through the precept portion of Council Tax) towards the funding of all the projects, functions and services that Thame Town Council provides for the community. If anyone has any comments on whether £2.80 (or a different amount?) is a reasonable amount, or suggestions on where we should spend more, or less, or the same, we would be pleased to hear, to assist us in setting the right budget for the community of Thame in the future. The Town Clerk would be pleased to talk through the current budget with anyone who has an interest.
Thame Town Council is committed to continuing to deliver the projects, functions and services that residents, workers, and visitors to the town expect and we thank everyone for their ongoing support in that work.