Community council refuses to set precept ahead of deadline
4:22pm Wednesday 15th January 2014 in News
A Gwendraeth Valley community council has taken the unprecedented step of refusing to agree its council tax precept ahead of the Carmarthenshire county council deadline.
The local authority had set a limit of January 31, at which time all town and community council should have laid out their budgets for the coming year and detailed how much money they would require from each household in their area.
However, Gorslas community council, in a sometimes fractious meeting, this week opted against meeting the deadline for the first time – and against the views of its own clerk.
Councillors discussed raising the precept by two percent – meaning residents living in a Band D household would have to pay an extra 74 pence during the coming year. In Ammanford, residents are facing rises of more than £7.
However, members expressed growing concern over unknown additional responsibilities which are likely to be placed on their shoulders in the coming months as the county council extends its “asset transfer” scheme.
The programme has already seen facilities such as public toilets handed over to community councils – leading to added financial pressure on the smaller bodies – and further moves are in the pipeline with the futures of parks, street lighting, street cleaning and libraries, amongst others, all in doubt.
Responsibility for grass-mowing at Gorslas, Drefach and Cefneithin parks alone could see the community council facing an additional £5,000 bill in 2014.
Councillor Wyn Edwards said: “We are expected to set our precept in January but then what if in February and March the county council says it is no longer going to fund this or pay for that and we will then have to take on those expenses.
“How can we be expected to budget for things we know nothing about?
“These are things that could materially affect our budget.”
Despite the protestations of the council clerk, Cllr Edwards urged members to defer setting their precept until the council’s February meeting.
“At least then we will have a better idea of what services we might expect to have to take on,” he said.
“In terms of missing the deadline, it may not be something we have done before but we will not be the first and we certainly won’t be the last.”
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