No fat cats and no gravy train

PUBLISHED: 12:28 23 March 2007 | UPDATED: 22:39 28 May 2010

I WOULD like to comment on a letter from Stan Chantler of Chatteris which included a statement that: Not to be outdone, Chatteris Parish (Town) Council has this year decided to join the gravy train with a 10.3 per cent increase. None of the above increas

I WOULD like to comment on a letter from Stan Chantler of Chatteris which included a statement that: "Not to be outdone, Chatteris Parish (Town) Council has this year decided to join the gravy train with a 10.3 per cent increase. None of the above increases can possibly be justified."

Clearly an explanation of the increase is necessary in reply.

The approved precept for Chatteris Council for 2007/08 is £73,000, an increase of £8,000 (12.3 per cent) over the 2006/07 precept of £65,000.

Of that £8,000 increase, £3,000 is the council's share of the May 2007 election expenses. This is an unavoidable cost to the town council. In fact the eventual cost of the elections may well be higher. The elections budget will of course drop out for 2008/09.

A budget increase of £2,000 was approved for attracting matching contributions for replacing playground equipment, some of which is the worse for wear. Increased grants were approved for Chatteris Christmas lights (£1,000 increase) and Chatteris in Bloom (£500), both run by voluntary bodies and both of which enhance the town during the respective seasons of the year.

Incidentally, in the case of the Christmas lights, the previous grant of £1,000 had remained unchanged over at least the last 10 years.

Of the remaining £1,500, £250 has been allowed for a replacement strimmer for the gardener, an estimated reduction of about £350 in investment income on capital reserved (because some of the reserves were used on the recently-publicised leisure development project) and £800 for anticipated price inflation on items such as gas, electricity, water, insurance, stationery and other minor budget adjustments.

As regards staffing budgets despite a mandatory 1.3 per cent increase in employers' pension contributions, the pay bill for Chatteris Town Council officers in 2007/08 shows an increase of just £100 compared with 2006/07, mainly because of a staffing restructuring in the previous year which went against the trend and actually produced savings on salaries.

No Fat Cats here.

IVAN J COOPER

Financial officer, Chatteris Town Council, Chatteris

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