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Lymington and Pennington Town Council members approve annual budget and council tax band D rate of £130.51 for year

LYMINGTON and Pennington Town Council members were warned they need to be “cautious” with the authority’s finances before the 2024/25 budget was approved.

At a recent meeting, councillors voted to approve a draft budget for this year with a total expenditure of £1.49 million.

The council’s projected annual income for the year is expected to be £396,426, plus a further £117,000 coming out of the council’s reserves and provisions.

Lymington and Pennington Town Council’s precept will bring in nearly £1 million
Lymington and Pennington Town Council’s precept will bring in nearly £1 million

Bridging the gap between spending and income, members voted to set the council’s total precept charge for the year at £982,689.

The charge means the annual council tax precept for a band D property in the town this year will rise to £130.51 – a 10.89% increase on last year’s rate of £117.69.

In a report to councillors, officers wrote: “In planning this budget, a great deal of consideration has been given to the current economic conditions.

“The cost-of-living crisis is impacting our expenditure and our ability to keep within our current budget.

“We are very aware that everyone is being impacted by rising costs and therefore to try and minimise the increase which is passed on to residents we are proposing utilising some of our reserves in 2024/25.

“This will help ensure that services can still be maintained, whilst restricting the increase to band D council tax payers.”

The report added: “This strategy cannot be sustained in the long term, and a further increase in the precept is likely to be needed in 2024/25.”

Cllr Alan Penson, Conservative member for Lymington ward, said: “I’m going to support this budget, but I would observe that we are spending a lot of our reserves.

“Over a two-year period we’re now looking at spending £320,000 from our reserves. Spending a third of our reserves obviously can’t continue on like that.”

He added: “We all understand why [the council is tapping reserves] but an awful lot of money is gong to be taken out. We have to be very cautious.

“We still have quite high inflation and we’re looking at nearly 9% of our revenue expenditure (£82,000) just on pensions. I just wanted to point out that it’s a lot of money.”

Cllr Martina Humber, Lib Dem member for Pennington ward, said she took Cllr Penson’s point about spending and asked if there was a minimum amount of cash the authority was advised to keep in its reserves.

Council clerk Louise Young replied that local authorities throughout the country are advised to keep between three and 12 months’ worth of expenditure in their reserves.

Following the discussion, councillors also approved the 2023/24 revised budget and noted a three-year financial forecast for the authority. They also agreed to approve a schedule of fees and charges for the coming year.

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