At its Full Council meeting on Thursday 28th January, the Town Council was presented with a draft budget which, after a healthy amount of discussion, was adopted and the level of precept required set at £984,150 for 2021-22. For full details, the meeting papers can be found at https://www.seafordtowncouncil.gov.uk/council-meetings/ .
The ‘precept’ is the Town Council’s share of the Council Tax collected by the local billing authority, Lewes District Council. By issuing a ‘precept’ this ensures the Town Council is able to meet its spending requirements, both from its strategic plans and also the upkeep and maintenance of its large portfolio of assets and facilities within the town. Many of the Town Council’s projects had already been put on hold during 2020 and this will remain the case in 2021, save for key priority projects identified as part of this budget setting process or those where external funding can be identified to cover the costs.
The Town Council’s budgeting process started in September 2020 with Town Council officers and committee chairs reviewing each budget line by line. Committee budgets were then presented and scrutinised by each committee, where further changes were considered and recommendations made to Full Council. The budgeted expenditure for the year and transfers in to reserves (savings), minus all budgeted income and use of Ear Marked Reserves (money ring-fenced for a specific purpose) leaves the precept figure (£984,150).
In what has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, Seaford Town Council has managed, through its careful and methodical budgeting approach, to set a precept with an increase from 2020-21 of only £12.23 per year, just under 24 pence per week on the Band D Council Tax (each Council Tax Bill will identify which band a property is in – Band D is however the band used by all local authorities for the purposes of explaining the Council Tax level).
The Town Council, like many, has experienced a year of uncertainty and disruption and without knowing when the situation may change, it has been vital that the Town Council’s finances were calculated to weather any future storms. This increase will enable the Town Council to continue to support and provide services to the community, whilst gradually recovering its reserves over the coming years to a level at which it can ensure service continuity in case of any future financial challenges.
At this Full Council meeting, the Town Council recognised the financial challenges faced by all due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this is what influenced the Town Council’s decision in keeping any increase to the precept as low as possible