THE parish council precept in Helsby will rise by £15 this year while Frodsham bills will increase by just 37p.
An average Band D homeowner in Helsby will pay the parish council £46.61 – 47% more than last year, compared to the same resident in Frodsham who will pay £31.51 – just 1% more.
Precepts are set by parish councils to help meet their spending requirements and are included in council tax along with police, fire, borough council and county council shares.
Helsby Parish Council decided this week to set the precept at £90,000 to cover the cost of the dedicated Police Community Safety Officer, a proposed cemetery extension, extended Christmas lights and the first repayment of a loan to cover a planned £100,000 donation to Helsby Community Sports Club.
Frodsham Town Council have kept the precept low by dipping into reserve funds, but Helsby do not have enough saved to cover future costs.
Chairman of the Helsby Parish Council finance committee Terry O’Neill said: “We have thoroughly looked at our expenses as a parish council and I think we have realised we basically under-budgeted last year.
“That has made us look at what our spending is on and the things people want from us as a council.”
In 2007 Helsby set the precept at £60,000 but say the financial year’s spend is likely to be more than £95,000, creating an overspend of £14,451 even after they took almost £20,000 from reserves.
Reserves are now down to just £15,000 so the precept was increased to £90,000 – a 47% rise per household.
This year’s unexpected costs have included Christmas lights (£1,500), community centre renovation and costs (£8,743), finger post signs (£4,200) and bus shelters (£2,500).
Councillors decided a more realistic view was required for 2008/2009 as reserves have become lower than auditor recommendations.
In Frodsham, residents will be asked to fork out just a few extra coppers to fund the town council’s share of this year’s council tax.
The council has fine-tuned its finances and set its 2008/09 precept at £118,177 – a rise of just £3,487 on last year – which will cost the average Band D household an extra 38p.
After a lengthy debate this week, councillors agreed a budget of £138,660 for the next 12 months and rejected a proposed 12% increase on the precept that would have meant an average household rise of £3.71.
Instead, the council voted to offset costs by dipping into its reserves, taking £6,000 put by to top up the burial ground development fund, and another £6,500 earmarked for footpath resurfacing work in Castle Park which was completed by Vale Royal Borough Council.
Town Mayor, Cllr John Maddock, said: “It’s gratifying the council is able to maintain its level of service without any major increase in the precept. Our aim is to ensure the people of Frodsham continue to get value for money.”