TAXPAYERS in Helston face a hike in their council tax bills this year after the town council agreed a whopping 27 per cent increase in its precept – the biggest rise in its history.
It was agreed on Monday night that the town council’s total budget for 2014-15 will now top £250,000.
Councillors said they were forced to make the increase to pay for services off-loaded by Cornwall Council.
Mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby said: “There’s no doubt about it, this is an increase.
“However, I believe it is a justified and robust budget to provide essential services.”
He said the town council had been forced to take on assets dropped by Cornwall Council which would otherwise have closed.
This included three toilet blocks with rates, services and cleaning and three extra playgrounds, on top of the two the town council already runs. Another £10,000 has been set aside for playground equipment repairs.
Town clerk Chris Dawson said a tax support grant from Cornwall Council had also been reduced by £3,320, and £10,000 income had been lost from interest, as banks were no longer offering secured bonds.
The council also had to set aside an extra £35,000 in its budget, in case it is forced to cover the cost of running the town’s CCTV cameras this coming year. Questioning the budget, Councillor Martine Knight said guidance from local government advised not going above a 2 per cent increase.
“It strikes me as rather a lot of money in times of hardship,” she said. “At a time when the recommendation is to be careful of going over 2 per cent – 27 per cent is rather a lot.”
Councillor Radford-Gaby replied: “I believe that’s mightily rich of Cornwall Council considering they are devolving assets to us, like toilets, playgrounds and CCTV.”
The councillors voted and agreed to set the budget at £269,650 for the new financial year. This year’s budget was £212,240.
For a typical band D house, this means a rise by £21.25 per year to £83.13 in total on the town council’s part of the bill.
Final council tax bills will also include amounts for Cornwall Council and the police.