Parish Council Budget Q&A Part 2
Kingsclere Parish Council
Find out more about this community in:
Parish Council Budget Q&A Part 2.
Continued from Part 1.
Why have the Parish Council raised their precept while the Borough Council have not?
The Borough Council have a broad base of revenue streams including commercial property; the Parish Council do not. Therefore, costs incurred by the Parish Council directly impact the precept.
Will the precept rise next year in 2024?
The precept for 2024 has not yet been prepared, discussed, or agreed upon, but it is unlikely that no rise will occur. However, in the past two years, KPC has restructured the budget to ensure that it is stable and sustainable and has addressed several key issues that had arisen. For the foreseeable future, any rise in the precept will occur because of a rise in general operating expenditure, agreed development projects and new areas of operation.
Do you plan beyond the current year?
Yes, the Council typically looks ahead on a rolling three-year basis. We have already identified issues arising concerning the toilet block, cemetery maintenance, replacement fencing for the ‘Rec’ play area and dilapidating notice boards which require careful consideration.
The toilet block is closed on weekends. Why did KPC not sort it out?
The toilet block is owned and operated by the Borough Council, but they have offered it to KPC to own and run. Councillors have therefore spent a lot of time working with Borough Council officers, completing a feasibility report, outline terms and cost/liability projection to take on the toilet block. However, we have determined that the projected operating cost would be about £15,000 per year and a further 20% per year to cover future maintenance and replacement. This would in approximate numbers add about 28% to the precept. KPC decided to pause formal consideration of adopting the toilet block until 2024.
Why does KPC not spend all the money it raises in the budget?
The budget operates within tight constraints. At all times KPC operates with a rolling 3 months of revenue, its operating cash. In addition, a 5% budget variance is included in the budgeted precept amount, which if all goes to plan is not spent and is carried forward to the following year. Sometimes, projects that have been budgeted get delayed and are either cancelled or more commonly carried forward, the Crown Green notice board being one such example. Any unspent money beyond that is reconciled at the end of the year and deducted from the required precept income.
Why does KPC have so many staff and councillors?
The Council operates with only three paid people: a part-time clerk, a finance officer and a street cleanser. The whole time equivalent of people employed by the council is less than two. It is a common misconception that councillors are paid when in fact they provide, in our case, many hours of professional services for free, which the Council would otherwise have to pay for, for example legal, commercial and planning services. That does not include volunteering to plant trees, hedging, bulbs and clearing up antisocial damage. If KPC paid for all its activities and services at market rate, then the cost of running the Council would be far greater than it is currently.
Why does the council not do more about planning issues?
As a Parish Council, we are a statutory consultee, which means our view as a council is sought by the planning authority, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. We review and discuss all planning applications in the parish and ensure that they align to existing policies such as the Neighbourhood Plan. KPC does not have any direct powers to intervene and determine planning applications but works closely with the Borough’s planning officers to ensure that policies are consistently followed.
Further reading - see our article on 'What exactly does Kingsclere Parish Council Do?'
Clerk to the Council
- 01635 298634
Find Kingsclere Parish Council
Kingsclere Parish Office, 37 George Street, Kingsclere, Newbury, Hampshire, RG20 5NH
Phone and email monitored regularly Office Phone voicemail available. To make an appointment to visit the office in person, please contact the Clerk to the Council.