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FROME Town Council has announced it will have to charge residents more council tax from April in order to continue improving the town and cope with government cuts.
The council agreed this month to raise its precept – the proportion of council tax paid to the town council – to £1,139,706 for the 2016/17 financial year.
This increase of approximately 10% means that the precept of a Band D property will be £138.65 per year; an increase of £11.97 per year or 23p per month on last year’s £126.68. Band D properties are used to measure the national average house value, but only 23% of homes in Frome will pay the Band D rate or higher. 77% of residents will pay a lower rate.
Leader of the town council Peter Macfadyen said, “Both the district and county councils have received major cuts in government support over the last few years and it is now beginning to show in terms of local services. Traditional services, that we have all come to expect, are disappearing fast all over the country; in some counties for example there soon won’t be funds to repair roads or provide proper care for the elderly.
“So we as a town council had a dilemma; should we accept the apparently inevitable and continue to manage a limited number of services, or do we expand our role to try and fill some of the gaps? We have decided on the latter.
“In setting the budget we have kept costs to a minimum, and we have also heard loud and clear that some items need to be beefed up. These include – amongst others – ensuring the Victoria Park toilets are open every day; that paths in the Old Showfield, Victoria Park and Dippy are improved; and flowers are brought back into the town centre.
“We have not increased this Band D Council Tax amount in the last three years despite constantly increasing the services we provide. We have, however, worked hard to find ways to raise funds from other sources and over the past three years we have directly attracted or helped to raise funds amounting to over £650,000.
“I am proud to lead a council that is ambitious in these times of austerity and which has also found ways to bring very significant funds into Frome above and beyond taxation.”
The full payable council tax will not be announced until all parties have set their precepts – the district council, police force and fire service also rely on income from council tax.