‘Significant financial challenges’ lie ahead for Haverhill Town Council as it looks to maintain services while dealing with a 12.4 per cent cut.
Town clerk Will Austin presented the council’s leisure and community committee with a draft budget at last Tuesday’s (January 21) meeting, stating that the arts centre, arts and leisure and community first budgets represent the largest amount of town council expenditure aside from salaries.
The trio of budgets face an overall cut of 12.4 per cent cut, with the council having not made an increase for three years and now facing a St Edmundsbury Council cut of £129,000 over four years.
Options being considered in addition to cuts are a five per cent rise in the council tax precept.
Mr Austin said: “Our costs have been rising but we have held the budget down with some help from the reserves.
“We shouldn’t look to increase subsidy from the council reserve.
“We want to retain the level of quality and events and services we provide with minimal impact on council tax.”
Leisure manager Nick Keeble said not much more could be hosted to raise income, and that some events make a profit while others make a loss.
He said the committee gets no corporate sponsorship for events and that £3,000 has been set aside for some form of World War I commemoration service this year.
Mr Austin said there would be a ‘huge reduction’ in Christmas light expenditure following the expiry of a contract and the council owns much of the lighting needed now.
“Financial flexibility would go but given the financial situation that’s arguably a price worth paying,” he said.
He suggested further savings could be made by removing some of the town centre planters, while also looking at new contracts and arrangements.
Mr Austin said that the draft budgets being presented would save a total of £25,000 – a ‘significant contribution’ to achieving the savings needed by the first cut of £32,000 by St Edmundsbury Council.
Cllr Clive Turner said that planters should not be removed as they serve a ‘strategic purpose’ of reducing the amount of illegal parking in the High Street.
However, Mr Austin said that only ‘five of the 18’ planters were effective across the town centre.
For all the latest news see tomorrow’s (Thursday, January 30) Echo.