On Tuesday 30th January the Town Council agreed a budget of £952,901 for the 2024/25 financial year.
To set the budget this year the Council has had to face the impact of cost of inflation in key areas including fuel, utilities and wages whilst also trying to mitigate the impact of the reduction of services proposed by Somerset Council.
The Council has been working towards clarity over the running costs of taking on additional services, facilities and responsibilities and this budget has taken this into account. As always, we will continue to look for savings throughout the year which can be used to limit future inflation or invest in community services.
With all this in mind, the Council has agreed a budget which includes projected income of £118,025 and expenditure of £1,070,926. These costs include the work of the Town Council to maintain our cemeteries, administer allotments and fund some of the key civic events in the towns including the Remembrance Parade. The budget also covers maintenance of certain public facilities such as dog bins, the Princess Theatre and the work of the Town Rangers to support residents and visitors, as well as the award of grants of £35,000 to community groups. Included within the expenditure is an additional £76,000 for increased costs in areas such as highways maintenance, parks and public conveniences that have previously come under the remit of Somerset Council.
The expenditure will be funded by a precept of £952,901, which will form part of the council tax along with the requirements of Somerset County Council and Police. This equates to an increase in the Town Council element of £27.31 per year to a Band D property to £143.41, a weekly increase of just over 50p and one of the lowest increases throughout Somerset.
As the full extent to which Town & Parish Councils will have to take on public services is as yet unknown, the Council has decided it would not be prudent to draw down additional funding from reserves at this present point in time.
As the stability of local authorities continues to decline, it is becoming imperative that each Town and Parish Council take on additional responsibilities that are essential to the needs of their specific community. However, the Council is aware that as individual household costs have also increased enormously any increase in council tax is an additional burden to the residents of Burnham-on-Sea & Highbridge. Somerset Council have a council tax reduction scheme in place for low income households – – https://www.somerset.gov.uk/benefits-and-payments/council-tax-reduction/.
Further cost of living information is available on the Town Council’s website – https://burnham-highbridge-tc.gov.uk/cost-of-living-advice.
The feedback from our public consultations have played a vital part of the decision-making process this year and whilst no increase is a welcome increase, the Council has taken the decision to make an incremental adjustment for essential services that would otherwise be cut, whilst still keeping the council tax at one of the lowest rates in Somerset.