Having increased the precept by 50% last year to cover the cost of running the Medical Centre and Festival Hall in the short term, Alderley Edge Parish Council has agreed to keep the precept at the same level for the next financial year.
Last year councillors voted to increase the precept, the part of your council tax which is charged by the Parish Council, from £120,000 to £180,000 - equivalent to an increase of just under £2 per month for a Band D property.
They had hoped to be able to reduce it but agreed at their meeting on Monday, 9th January, that they were not in a position to do so yet.
Councillor Myles Garbett explained "The Festival Hall obviously we know continues to run at a loss, that was obviously due primarily to the fact it was closed whilst being refurbed. We have seen a significant uptake in bookings under new management and also the coming online. We have made a projection within the budget for an income but it will still show a deficit for the course of the year. We're being semi conservative of that income, even further within the cash flow forecast, which is really the position we are in.
"We have a good balance but we need to make sure that runs the course over the next five years until the Medical Centre starts paying the full rent rather than the, not subsidised as we've had an advance of rent, but a reduced rate and when that comes in the position becomes significantly more healthy. That said, with cash flow forecasts that we've made, with slightly more conservative figures than actual budget, it shows us being in a positive position all the way through to 2021 and beyond when the Medical Centre rates go back up again.
"So with that, and also the Medical Centre not being wholly occupied yet, the second floor is partially let, we've also been fairly conservative on income on that and also not having had a good run time on that being occupied and the Festival Hall having a regular income I think that we should at this point recommend that the precept stays the same.
"We had looked to start to reduce as and when we could but In the absence of a good run at income from the Festival Hall and the fully occupied Medical Centre we need to manage the cash flow position and we can protect that by maintaining the precept as it is. As and when we can see that the cash flow position is improved in the long term we can look at starting to reduce the precept after we increased it last year to manage the situation."
Councillor Craig Browne commented "It was increased last year for reasons that are well known. I do think it's important in the longer term that we do identify ways we can reduce it but I accept what you're saying in the short term regarding the cash flow.
"I think the most important thing is we're not putting it up again this year. It is good news that we are not."