Sleaford Town Councillors have agreed to up their share of the Council Tax bill for the first time in seven years.
At their meeting last Wednesday, members agreed to increase the Band D equivalent charge by £3.43 (3.29 per cent) a year for Sleaford residents, although many households will pay less than that in lower bands.
Clerk Kevin Martin reported that North Kesteven District Council had advised them that the number of Band D properties had increased, generating £31,438 more in tax income, but the support grant from the government to the town had reduced by £11,072.69 – almost half the total grant.
To offset this, the agreed new Band D charge for the Town Council portion will be £107.50 a year and the income from that will be added to the remaining grant to produce an annual budget of £607,715 for the council to spend, although £15,500 has been earmarked for street scene improvements in the town, including covering the cost of cutting grass in some amenity areas that will no longer be cut by the county council due to its own budget cuts.
The council tax portions for the district and county councils and Lincolnshire Police are yet to be agreed but are expected to increase as well.
Coun Anthony Brand called for a review of the figure set for members’ allowances to cover their expenditure, currently set at £370 a year, but which had not been reassessed since 2003. Coun Mark Allan agreed that there were more demands on councillors such as printing costs and it might be a way of making the role more attractive to prospective members.
Coun Heather Lorimer suggested the current figure was a ‘drop in the ocean’ for the work done.
The clerk was asked to contact the district’s parish remuneration panel to undertake a review ready for the 2018/19 budget. Mr Martin said some comparable town councils paid more while others had no allowances.
Half the councillors do not claim their allowances and Council Leader Grenville Jackson saw it as a possible means to top up the Town Fund for charitable donations which is made up of unclaimed allowances.