ESTIMATED spending figures for Cirencester Town Council have pushed over the £1million mark for the first time.
The town council has defended a spending increase of £72,360 in next year’s budget plans as necessary for "taking up the slack" due to cutbacks at Cotswold District Council and Gloucestershire County Council.
Top spends revealed at this month’s town council meeting, included £391,500 on salaries, £38,000 on the town centre regeneration scheme and £33,000 on community safety, including CCTV.
Spends on public areas and highways is also set to double to £15,000 from next financial year to help improve the town’s verges and roundabouts.
Now, residents are invited by the council to scrutinise the estimated spending figures in full and provide feedback before the final budget is agreed in January.
At last week’s meeting, Cllr John Burgess (Con, Beeches Ward) said the figures were "frightening."
"This is the first time in history it will exceed £1m," he said. "We can’t afford this constant hike in expenditure."
But Cllr Lee Searles (Lib Dem, Park Ward) said: "Cirencester is growing by the day owing to the district council placing most of its housing needs in the town, so I think you had better get used to it."
As part of the estimated budget, spending is set to rise from £927,940 this financial year to £1,000,300 next financial year, while income is also set to rise from £209,560 this year to £245,000 next year.
If approved, the total potential increase to taxpayers would be £36,920.
Speaking after the meeting, Cirencester’s deputy mayor Cllr Joe Harris (Lib Dem, Park Ward) said the increase was vital for sustaining local services and amounted to a "few pence" per person over the year.
"A lot of funding for frontline services that people need such as the youth services have been cut by the government, county council and district council, so we’ve decided to plug that gap.
"The district council has frozen council tax and it’s an unsustainable model because people have to pay for this through sky high parking and toilet charges.
"We hope the small increases we are proposing, which will go on projects like the market place scheme, will have a long-term economic impact on the town."
CDC leader Lynden Stowe said Cllr Harris was "speaking political hogwash" in blaming the district council for CTC's estimated budget increase.
"Given the current economic crisis, it's absolutely the right thing to freeze council tax until at least 2016. It's up to the town council to set their own budgets and nothing to do with CDC."
To see and comment on the town council's draft budget, visit cirencester.gov.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in to the town council offices at Bingham House, Dyer Street, Cirencester.
A GLANCE AT THE ESTIMATED 2013/14 BUDGET
Sector: Expenditure (Income)
- Staff salaries: £391,500 (£0)
- Staff pension and ill health insurance: £27,600 (£0)
- Town centre regeneration scheme: £38,000 (£0)
- Community safety, including CCTV: £55,000 (£22,000)
- Cirencester Development Partnership: £30,000 (£7,500)
- Christmas market: £72,000 (£62,000)
- Christmas lights: £12,000 (£0)
- Children and young people: £19,000 (£0)
- Public realm and highways: £15,000 (£0)