Pennies from Heaven

It’s coming round to that time of year where a young (ish) man’s thoughts in Sunny Colch start to turn towards:

2015/16 Revenue Budget, Fees and Charges, Capital Programme and Financial Reserves.

Whaddya mean we’re alone in this?

This all might sound incredibly DRY, but it is the pounds and pennies that will have a real impact on how we are able to live our lives around the town.

Connecting the macro economics of CBC with the micro economics of our own budgets was one of the reasons as to why we decided to put an extra fiver back in The Chronic server fund.

For every penny spent / saved by CBC, the service that we receive is somehow changed.

Sorta.

Let’s get the headline points out of the way first.

Cabinet will agree when it next meets on 26 November:

“To note the current 2015/16 revenue budget forecast which at this stage shows a budget gap of £330k and the forecast variables and risks.”

Plus:

“Agree that the recommended level of revenue balances be provisionally set at £1.8m for 2015/16.”

Which at first reading doesn’t seem great.

Price rises against various council services will have to take place. But also the CBC money collectors will need to earn their wage.

£7,021,000 is expected from the government in December in the form of the New Homes Bonus – the amount of cash the Coalition sends our way as a thank you for Mile End et al.

There is an expected overall 15% reduction (£1.3m) in the amount of local government settlement funding that CBC can expect from Westminster.

And so savings have to be made.

Business is apparently booming in Sunny Colch. CBC intends to cash in:

“A greater proportion of the Council’s funding is now expected to be received from business rates as opposed to Central Government grants.”

How shoppers get to access local businesses has also been factored into the forecast:

“An allowance is included in the budget for a reduction in car park income arising from the introduction of park and ride.”

Righto – that’s the main macro points that we can be bothered to pick out before we settle down to watch the football.

Let’s skim through some of the micro points that impact directly on our day to day lives.

There are some absolute corkers in there, if only we had the time to give it all a proper read.

We particularly liked the part of the report dedicated to DEATH.

Cremation charges will rise 10% from £568 to £625.

Plus in the unlikely event that you would like a ‘webcast’ of a Chapel Service, we’re afraid that this is also going up – £57 to £60.

The uptake of webcasting funerals in Sunny Colch is surely an FoI waiting to happen…

Plus don’t forget that the postage and packing of cremated remains – ‘price available on request.’

Council Tax is set to remain the same in Sunny Colch for 2015/16. This is no great surprise. That nice Coalition dishes out extra dosh for local authorities that agree to freeze it.

Plus:

“It is proposed that no changes are made to the fees and charges for parking services.”

Entry to Colchester Castle is set to rise 10p for adults – from £7.50 to £7.60. Children and concessions remain the same.

It’s good to get confirmation of the ‘cost’ of the various civic piss ups as well – all paid for personally by each individual that attends:

Mayor Making lunch – £30 per person

Opening of the Oyster Fisheries – £85 per person

Oyster Feast – £95 per person

Just think how many webcasts of a funeral service could be paid for if we did away with the annual Oyster Feast folly.

CBC is sticking with the strap line:

“Colchester, the place to live, learn, work and visit.”

This sounds pretty fair and aspirational to us.

The trick is not to tinker with the daily budgets of each resident so that they can also buy into this vision.