Budget Setting 2020/2021

Published: 28 January 2020

Keynsham Town Council finalised the Annual Budget for 2020/2021 at its meeting on Tuesday 14th January, and in doing so also set the council tax precept to cover a proportion of the forecast £870,173 expenditure. The Town Council is forecasting an income of £144,745 which includes for £55k of Community Infrastructure Levy receipts and has set a precept (amount levied on council tax payers) this coming year of £607,778 which equates to £93.12 per Band D Equivalent (BDE) household. This represents a 2% increase (3.52p per week) on last year’s amount of £91.29 to £93.12 per annum per BDE . The Town Council has released £172,241 from ear-marked reserves to fund the remaining shortfall.

Dr Cheryl Scott, Town Clerk, commented: "Although the tax base for Keynsham (no of households) has increased by 2.7% the Town Council’s forecast expenditure of £870,173 represents a 16.7% increase on last year’s budget of £745,115. This sounds an irresponsible increase but the figures are skewed by the receipt and expenditure of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies from Keynsham development together with the use of ear marked reserves for capital projects to maintain/improve asset infrastructure amounting to some £110,000. As examples, the Council will be contributing £40,000 towards the High Street Heritage Action Zone Project, £15,000 towards the refurbishment of Kelston Park Play Area and is hoping to spend up to £20,000 of s106 monies to improve the existing allotments in the coming year.

In terms of day to day running costs, the Council will be saving almost £19,000 on staff pensions next year and part of the ear marked reserves being brought down to support next year’s expenditure is the result of saving £40k on this year’s budget in respect of staff costs by delaying recruitment and deferring £33k of capital project expenditure to next year.. Unfortunately the forecast £55k Community Infrastructure Levy income, must be spent on improving infrastructure so cannot be used to fund revenue expenditure. Like many other Councils up and down the country, Keynsham Town Council has to think very carefully when making decisions about whether to take on more responsibilities, projects and activities that would incur more cost".

Chairman Councillor Andy Wait continued: "The Town Council continues to experience significant pressure to either take on or contribute to assets, services and projects which would in the past have been funded totally by B&NES. After 18 months of protracted negotiation with the developers, the Town Council has finally agreed to accept the transfer of Holmoak Play area at Bilbie Green to manage/maintain in perpetuity. We are therefore currently developing a joint strategy with B&NES on the future management and maintenance of all recreational and green spaces in Keynsham. This will include taking account of the results of the recent Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) Recreational Spaces survey and, most importantly, the use of s106 and CIL monies collected by B&NES from developments in Keynsham towards supporting future Keynsham infrastructure projects.

It is very clear that the management of our environment, both local and global, is of increasing concern to our residents. The first meeting of the new Council last May declared a Climate Emergency and as part of this new initiative the Council has allocated an additional £10,000 to the existing £20,000 available as grants to community organisations that will be ring-fenced to support environmental projects. The Annual awards application process will be opening shortly. In addition, it has allocated a further £10,000 of CIL money per year for the next 3 years for small community infrastructure projects and will be launching a call for suggestions at the Annual Town Meeting on Thursday 23rd April at 7.30pm in The Space. As the new Environment & Sustainability Working Party gathers momentum under the Chairmanship of Cllr Alan Greenfield, there will be further initiatives and information to support both the Town Council and residents in their aims towards reducing carbon emissions and single use plastics".

Councillor Wait concluded: "With Brexit about to happen and the impact social care continues to have on Local Authority budgets, as a small Town Council we still have a responsibility to consider the costs associated with taking on new assets and services against the increase in council tax that would be necessary to cover the additional resourcing and maintenance costs.

In recognition of this, the last Council introduced long term financial planning as part of the budgetary process and this Council will continue with its duty to all residents of Keynsham to exercise responsible stewardship of the current assets and services and ensure we have the finances in place to do so”.

For further information please visit the Town Council’s website www.keynsham-tc.gov.uk or contact: Dr Cheryl Scott, Town Clerk at Keynsham Town Council, 15-17 Temple Street, Keynsham, Bristol BS31 1HF, telephone 01225 395951 or e-mail: townclerk@keynsham-tc.gov.uk