The Town Council is currently in the process of setting its Revenue and Capital Budgets for the 2018/19 financial year, and wishes to seek the views of the local community on our spending plans and what your priorities are for the coming years.
We would particularly welcome the views of local tax payers on the Council services that are most and least important to you, and whether there are any new services or initiatives that you would like to see the Council make investment in.
Your views are very important to us and will be used to help to inform the Council’s service and financial planning both next year and into the future.
We have developed a short survey to formally record your views and we would encourage local residents to complete this questionnaire.
The results of the survey, including any specific comments made or concerns raised, will be reported to the Council before it meets to set the final 2018/19 Budget in January.
You can access the survey by clicking on the links on the Council’s website and Facebook page, or by typing the following into your internet browser: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/gatc2018budgetsurvey
A summary of the Council’s current financial situation and the draft 2018/19 budget proposals is set out in the following article, and there is much more information on the Council finances and budgets on the Council website at http://www.great-aycliffe.gov.uk/council-democracy/finance/
Town Council Finances Update & Proposed 2018/19 Budget
The Council is pleased to report that its finances remain in a strong and healthy position and in the short term the financial outlook remains positive, with a balanced budget in place, savings continuing to be achieved in the current year, council tax base growth from new housing development, and healthy levels of balances and reserves.
As a result, the Council’s draft 2018/19 Revenue Budget has been prepared in a way that will ensure that the many services provided to the community of Great Aycliffe by the Town Council, can continue to be provided to current standards next year.
However, the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan highlights that the financial situation of the Council will worsen as it moves towards the new decade, and that the process of balancing the Revenue Budget will become increasingly difficult in future years.
The Council is reliant on Council Tax Support Grant funding of nearly £200,000 per year, which amounts to 13% of its Revenue Budget. It has been confirmed that this funding will be cut by 10% in 2018/19 and will continue to be reduced in the coming years, while there remains a risk that it could be withdrawn altogether at some stage in the future.
The Council is also facing a number of significant spending pressures including ongoing increases to the National Living Wage, the likely removal of the 1% public sector pay cap, increasing inflation, and falling usage of leisure facilities.
Because of positive financial situation at the present time, most of the budget increases faced next year will be able to be offset from efficiency savings, increased pre-school and cemeteries income, and the additional council tax that will be raised from new housing, while no significant new investment has been provided for in the budget.
However, it is important, in light of the longer term financial challenges faced, that the Council aims to maintain some surplus resources in the Revenue Budget.
Taking all of the above issues into account, the Council is proposing making a small increase in the Town Council Tax next year.
This decision has not been taken lightly, particularly in light of the ‘cost of living’ difficulties which we know are being faced by local residents. However, by limiting the proposed rise to 1.99% next year, the increase in the Town Council Tax Bill at Valuation Band A would be limited to less than £3 per year or 6p per week.
This small increase will ensure that all services provided by the Town Council can be protected and maintained for at least another year, whilst maintaining some contingency funds to help the Council to offset some of the budget pressures faced in the longer term.
The Council is also proposing using some of its balances and reserves next year to undertake capital investment in community assets, thereby returning some of the savings made in recent years to local tax payers. Proposed projects include a new park development at Cobblers Hall, the replacement of the Town Park skate park and the replacement of Aycliffe Village junior play area.
The Council is due to agree its final 2018/19 Revenue and Capital Budget and set the Town Council Tax in January, and we will keep local tax payers informed of future developments in relation to the budget via the Council website and in the local press.
Should you wish to have a read of the Council’s draft 2018/19 budget proposals, you can view detailed information on the Council website via the following link:- http://www.great-aycliffe.gov.uk/council-democracy/finance/spending-plans/annual-budget/