Mon, 25 Jan 2021
THATCHAM residents can expect to see an increase on their council tax bill from April.
The rise follows town councillors proposing to increase the council’s precept by 2.75 per cent.
The increase means that council tax for a band D equivalent property for 2021/22 will be £83.88, a £2.42 rise.
Councillors have also asked for a share of Government funding sent to West Berkshire Council to help cover losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.
At a meeting last month, councillors heard that the “modest increase” was based on the rate of inflation, uncertainty due to coronavirus, Brexit and staff salary increases coming into effect.
The town council’s precept will rise from £742,696 to £763,120 under the proposals.
It also has £313,081 in general reserves.
Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said he thought the council had taken a prudent approach.
He said: “I think we are respecting and reflecting the difficult times across our community, many of which are struggling financially with coronavirus, and we are keeping our increase to the lowest amount of inflation.”
Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said the budget was a reflection of the time, but gave the town council “enough space to do what it wanted for the benefit of the town”.
The town council has lost income from events such as the Family Fun Day and has had increased costs for cleaning.
It has asked West Berkshire Council whether it will be forwarding any Government money it received, requesting around £18,000 to cover April to September last year.
Mr Lister said: “To date Thatcham Town Council has not received any support from West Berkshire Council to cover the loss of income.
“It’s a modest request reflecting what income we have lost and reflects the statement from the Government that no council will suffer from loss of income.”
The town council pays £40,000 towards the upkeep of the Henwick Worthy Sports Ground and £28,000 towards the Kennet Leisure Centre under a joint agreement with West Berkshire Council.
Responsible financial officer Steve Tickle said that the sums were “quite significant in terms of Thatcham’s precept contribution to the facilities”.
Mr Tickle said that the town council would keep pressing to hopefully get a resolution.
Halls reopened briefly after the first lockdown before closing again in the current restrictions.
Thatcham Preschool at the Burdwood Community Centre, operated by the town council, remains open during the current lockdown.
Speaking after the meeting, town mayor Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said that another funding request could be made to the district council.
He added: “A lot of our income is dependent on halls so it remains to be seen what the net affect is.”
Mr Cole said that imposing a higher precept would have “meant residents would have to pay above inflation which is hardly fair”.