if you look on your Council tax bill sent out each year, you will see it includes sums for services provided by various Authorities. The largest amount will be for Somerset Council, then it will be the Police and Fire Services and finally the sum you pay for your Parish Council. For those not aware, the amount paid through residents’ Council Tax (the precept) is the only income of the Parish Council and last year the total amount received was £31,500. This is used to pay for the administration of the PC as well as community expenses, (eg the defibrillator, the running of the toilets, some grass-cutting and dog bins etc) as well as making grants to parish organisations to assist with particular projects.
As was highlighted in the December article, due to Somerset Council’s financial woes, there are likely to be cuts in the services provided, though at the time of writing, no details on specifics are known. When the position is clearer, the Parish will have to decide whether, due to the negative effect of not having a service, it wishes to pay for that service itself. The sorts of things that may arise include litter/dog waste bins not being emptied with the same frequency, grit bins not being filled, gullies not cleared, verges not cut. These are all services that would have an impact in Milverton, by being noticeable and in the case of grit and gullies, affecting car safety and flooding respectively. It should be be noted that Somerset Council does not intend to provide any funding to the Parish Council to help pay for those services which will be cut.
The PC, therefore, will be deciding if, and how much it thinks it needs to have available to pay for services that have previously been provided by SCC and the decision will have to be made in January or early February 2024 Whilst the PC does have a contingency in the funds it holds, it needs to assess what it may need at 1 April 2024 through the precept, as it cannot after that date get any additional monies until the same date in 2025. It is almost certain that the precept will rise, to ensure the PC has enough to meet potential costs, though it should be pointed out that if monies are not spent, savings would be reflected in a lower precept for 2025/26
It is important residents are both aware of this issue and let Councillors know their views, since they will be impacted by higher costs, reduced services or a combination of both. Contact details for Councillors and the Parish Clerk are in the magazine and on Milverton Parish Council.
Clerk to the Council