Councillors in Chorley are to set the borough’s budget for the next twelve months, with residents facing a near three percent increase in the district authority’s share of council tax.
But even if the hike is approved by members tonight, bills are forecast to remain amongst the lowest in Lancashire - last year, only Ribble Valley charged less for district services. Under the plans for 2019/20, Band D properties would pay £171 towards services delivered by Chorley Council, with their overall council tax bill - including charges from Lancashire County Council, the police and fire service - standing at £1,788.
Members will hear that the outcome of an on-going review into local government funding has the potential to leave Chorley £1.3m worse off every year from 2020.
Papers to be presented to the budget meeting reveal the borough is already facing a budget shortfall of £3.9m over the next three years. A large part of the £1.4m deficit in the forthcoming financial year has been bridged by the reduced cost of a new waste services contract beginning in April - which totals £1.1m less than the current arrangement.
The remainder of the necessary savings in the year ahead will come from a mixture of savings and charges for services:
Review of fees and charges - generating an extra £145,000 - including:
***Interment of adult - rises £50 to £650
***Interment of cremated remains - rises £55 to £155
***Street trading consent - granting of licence - rises £366 to £806
***Street trading consent - renewal of licence - new fee of £676
***Stray dog fixed penalty charge - new fee of £88
***Hiring of horses licence - rises £107 to £206
***Licence for house of multiple occupancy (5 residents or fewer) - rises £407 to £859, with licences for larger households attracting greater increases in charges.
Fees for burials, garden waste collection, off-street car parking and market traders are all to be frozen during 2019/20.
Productivity savings - generating £115,000 - including:
***Reduction in sewer baiting to find rats
***Reduction in postage costs as more correspondence is sent electronically
Meanwhile, the council is planning to set aside £300,000 to mitigate any effect of Brexit on local businesses and to maintain its own priorities. The authority has also outlined plans to boost its spending on capital projects by £5m, with around half that figure being funded through borrowing at an estimated annual cost of £70,000.
Projects to be funded include:
Astley Park and Hall (£1.75m)
Installation of new windows and repairs to the building’s rendering, along with the creation of an adventure golf attraction and gift shop. Ackhurst Lodge would also be brought back into use for heritage or commercial purposes and a fee for entry to the hall could be introduced.
West Way Playing Fields (2.7m)
An existing budget of £950,000 for a new sports facility will be nearly trebled to create artificial pitches and changing facilities which meet Football Association and Sports England standards.
Chorley Council offices (£1m)
Improvements to the Union Street customer service centre, including a self-service area.
Flexible business space (£485,000)
Creation of office space for small businesses in a unit on the top floor of Market Hall.