Wellington town council has set a budget that will give the council an income for the coming financial year of £268,358, up from £223,158 at present. The annual cost per household will increase by £9.57 to £51.19.
Proposing that the budget be accepted, Cllr Mark Lithgow said “The past and present town clerks haver run a tight ship and done well by us financially. Wellington needs to spend money to remain an aspirational town.”
Councillors voted unanimously to accept the proposals. “Costs aren’t going to go down and we want to carry on providing good services,” said Mayor Cllr Gary James.
“People will inevitably look at the increase and focus on 23% but I think 18p a week extra represents very good value for the money we spend in Wellington,” commented Cllr John Thorne.
Town clerk Kathryn Hemensley told the meeting that the council was entering a challenging period in terms of demands for public services, with Somerset County Council facing severe budget cuts and Taunton Deane embroiled in the “transformation process” of the merger with West Somerset. “However, the council has built up a solid reserve to protect the town’s plans and ambitions,” she said.
Among the new provisions in the budget was a sum of £11,00 to support the work of the Wellington One team that coordinates the work of support agencies in the town, £5,000 to cover the costs of local elections in May and £13,000 to underwrite the cost of a pop-up shop available for short term rentals in the town centre.
Another £8,000 was allocated to support the preparations for a Wellington Film Festival in either autumn 2018 or spring 2019. Cllr Lithgow, co-chair of the Town Centre working Group, explained that both projects would generate income streams and not necessarily need to use the full financial provision available.
Other ongoing commitments in the year ahead include the maintenance of the Longforth Road toilets, the services of a Community Warden, and £20,000 a year towards the Youth Service at the Young Peoples Centre.
The town council’s current reserves stand at£316,000, enough to deal with any unforeseen circumstances in the coming financial year according to the town clerk.