REPORT OF THE PARISH CLERK/RESPONSIBLE FINANCIAL OFFICER

REVENUE BUDGET AND PRECEPT FOR 2019/20

  1. The Parish Council is required to set a budget and precept for 2019/20. The Government recently announced that Parish Councils had a three-year exemption from capping from April 2018 but the subject of capping would be re-visited at the end of that period.
  1. Against this background, therefore, a suggested Parish Council budget for the coming financial year is attached (Appendix 1).
  1. The key changes/challenges proposed for the 2019/20 budget are as follows:
  • Memorial Centre
  • Library
  • Cemetery
  • Tree Management Strategy and Framework
  • War Memorial Fields Trust
  • Halstead Road Project
  • Loughborough Road Play Area
  • Sorrel Youth Café
  • Revival 2019
  • Elections
  • General Reserves
  • Staffing

4.           Memorial Centre

The Parish Council assumed full responsibility for the Memorial Centre in November 2017.  The Centre has proved to be popular with local residents and groups as well as commercial and other organisations, for example, the National Health Service. The café is now occupied and the Council’s consultant APB are currently in discussions with other potential occupiers of the other two units.  The Memorial Centre will also be subject to a separate audit for 2018/19.

  1. Library

 

The Parish Council has still not assumed responsibility for the Library but it is anticipated that an interim arrangement with the Parish Council running the Library under Licence from Leicestershire County Council is likely to take place in January 2019.  This includes retaining the services of the library support assistant through a Service Level Agreement with Leicestershire County Council at a cost of £20,000 for 2019/20 as well as all other ongoing costs, for example, rates, heating, lighting, insurance and maintenance.

The Parish Council’s commitment, at the present time, does not include any budget for the provision of books as this service is currently retained by Leicestershire County Council.

  1. Cemetery

As previously agreed by the Cemetery, Conservation and Environment Committee a sum of £2,500 has been included for the first phase of the digital mapping of the cemetery project.

  1. Tree Management Strategy and Framework

As previously agreed by the Cemetery, Conservation and Environment Committee a sum of £5,000 has been included in the budget for the surveying of all the tree on the Council’s land with a view to developing a strategy and framework for their management.  This was agreed in response to advice from the Council’s insurers following a recent appeal case in which an individual was awarded £500,000 against a Parish Council when a tree fell causing extensive injuries.

  1. War Memorials Fields Trust

As advised previously the budget for the Trust needs to be set by a meeting of the War Memorials Fields Trust Board followed by a request to the Council for a donation towards its running costs minus any income it is projected to receive.  Currently based on previous income and expenditure this donation is likely to be in the region of £40,000 as the Council have agreed, in principle, to contribute towards the cost of providing a footpath linking the sports pavilion with the Leisure Centre and undertaking urgent tree works.

  1. Halstead Road Project

 

This project is to provide additional sporting facilities, allotments and pavilion to the cricket pitch being provided by Jelson Estates Limited as part of its planning permission.

As Members are aware this was a project that had earmarked reserves of £80,000 towards its provision.  However, the Council have previously agreed to contribute the sum of £160,000 towards the scheme.  Accordingly, a sum of £80,000 has been included in the 2019/20 budget.

  1. Loughborough Road Play Area

 

The Council are currently looking at the refurbishment of the Loughborough Road Play Area and have included a sum of £40,000 towards the cost.  It is anticipated that the project will cost in the region of £140,000 and the additional funds would be sought from grants.

  1. Sorrel Youth Café

 

The Sorrel Youth Café has submitted a request for financial assistance towards its operations in the sum of £20,000.  This sum has been provisionally included in the budget but it is a matter for the Council to determine whether £20,000 is appropriate.  The donation made in 2018/19 was £20,000.

  1. Revival 2019

 

The organisers have made an application for a grant towards the running costs of Revival in 2019.  The event ran at a small loss in 2018.  The contribution suggested by the budget working party is up to a maximum of £5,000 for insurance and other administrative costs as well as enabling the organisers to book additional attractions and performers.

  1. Elections

The next full Local Elections are due in May 2019. As with previous years, it is anticipated that the costs of administrating these will be shared proportionately with town and parish councils. Therefore, it is advisable for the parish council to consider this issue. As a guide, it is likely that for contested elections the cost will be approximately £2,000 upwards.

The Parish Council also needs to be mindful that a By Election could take place at any time between the elections in May 2019 before the next full Elections in 2023 and provision should also be made for such future election costs. Costs will vary dependant on the size of the Parish but as an estimate approximately £3,000.  Accordingly, this sum has been included in the budget for 2019/20.

  1. Reserves

In accordance with previous discussions and the Council’s Reserves Policy, the Council agreed to add to its general reserves the sum of £20,000 per annum

The Council needs to be aware that good practice guidance advises that the Council should hold at least 6 months precept in its general reserves.  If this advice is followed the Council should be retaining at least £250,000 in its reserves based on the 2019/20 budget.  These general reserves should be maintained in addition to any earmarked reserves

  1. Staff

 

The Council is currently paying a 3% contribution towards eligible employees’ pension (currently NEST).  The statutory contribution for NEST pension employees is due to rise in April 2019 to 8% made up by 3% contribution from Employers and 5% from Employees.

The Council pay a 24.09% contribution into the Local Government Pension Scheme for the Clerk.  It is unknown at the current time whether this contribution rate is likely to change.

Following the decision made by the Council in March 2017 to adopt a pay-scale for the majority of its staff this will result in a pay increase for these staff members. The Cemetery Gardener, Pavilion Caretaker and the Parish Room Caretaker will move onto the third spinal point of the Scale 1-5 of £8.40 per hour. Staff, with the exception of the Premises Officer, currently employed at the Memorial Centre will progress onto scale point 2 of £8.21 per hour.

In view of the continuing success of the Centre and in line with advice received from the Council’s business consultant a new post of General Manager has been included in the budget for 2019/20 at a cost of £24,000.

The Administrative Assistant is currently employed on £12.00 per hour.  This was agreed by Council to recognise the additional duties being undertaken by this post-holder.

The minimum wage/living wage provision increases in April 2019.  The minimum wage increases to £8.21 per hour for those aged 25 and over.

The Clerk’s salary is determined by the National Joint Council.  On the current scale it is due to increase to £29055.  This takes no account of any pay increase negotiated by the NJC.

  1. The effect of this budget would be a Precept of £543865.The effect on a Mountsorrel Council Tax payer will result in no increase.
  1. Details of the proposed budget were discussed by Members of the Budget Working Party at meetings held between September and October where the proposed budget was approved for submission to the Council for consideration.