North Sunderland Parish Council’s precept will rise next year, but not by as much as some councillors wanted.
At Monday night’s meeting, it was agreed by six votes to three to put the parish element of the council-tax bill up £1,000 to £12,000, although this will have a very small impact on each ratepayer’s bill.
The figures showed that £12,011 was the expenditure for 2016/17 based on a precept of £11,000.
Chairman, Coun Geoffrey Stewart, reflecting that the precept had not gone up for about four years, suggested putting it up by £2,000 to £13,000, but Coun David Donaldson said that it was too large an increase.
Coun Sylvia Hillan backed the £2,000 increase, saying: “I think it should be at least £13,000 because our budget suggests we are going to spend £16,000.
“If we are only going to put it up £1,000 this year then it will be more in the future. The precept only costs ratepayers about £9.
But Coun Donaldson’s argument was that any surplus spending could easily be covered by the council’s reserves, which are too high at present – £37,000 or three years’ worth of precept.
Coun Mick McCarthy asked if any guidance had been given by the auditor regarding the level of reserves.
Coun Donaldson said it was too high, but the clerk explained that the auditor had accepted that money may bee needed to replace the play equipment.
County councillor for the area, John Woodman, did not want to influence the parish council’s decision over raising its precept or using reserves, but did underline that the number and level of services provided by the county council is only going to decrease.
• New proposals for a balcony on a Seahouses property are still unacceptable, according to parish councillors.
A bid to remove the pitched roof over the kitchen and replace it with a fibreglass flat roof to provide a roof terrace with a glass balustrade at 3 Brady Street has been submitted to the county council.
But members of North Sunderland Parish Council feel that it doesn’t really improve on the previous retrospective scheme, which was refused and then upheld on appeal.
The council agreed to object, highlighting the loss of neighbours’ privacy and endorsing the comments made by the planning inspector in his appeal report.
• Members agreed to pay an extra £100 to the Christmas lights team this year, taking their total donation to £600 plus the Christmas tree, which costs between £150 and £200. The lights team have had some additional expenses this year, including insurance and training members to use the cherry picker, although the harbour commissioners are paying for the insurance and some of the training. Coun David Donaldson, who proposed the extra £100, said: “The whole community benefits from the Christmas lights.”
• The parish council also agreed to pay £1,625 plus VAT to replace the movements in the village clock, which has not been working properly. The current movements in the clock are now obsolete and the price quoted includes an auto-restart unit.