The parish council has been discussing the budget over the past month and has now agreed a 25 percent increase in the precept.
That could be the cue for a collective shaking of heads and sucking of teeth.
But there are plenty of reasons why such an increase is justified at this time: Ashford Borough Council are devolving responsibility for various services onto the parish (notably the public conveniences); there is a need to instigate transport initiatives without having to rely on Kent Highways (which has been slow to answer our calls this year); ABC are committed to a reduction of our concurrent grant (whatever that is) and our cleaning grant; the neighbourhood plan has absorbed much of our reserve in 2012-13; the parish is undergoing major change and has to be awake to the threat of development; and precepts are not capped this year but they may be in 2014-15.
It is also significant that the last time the parish faced a major threat (before the Battle of Wye Park), the precept was increased by 30 percent – and was then increased again the following year, which implies that 30 percent was not sufficient.
25% would result in an increase from about £40 to £50 a year on a Band D property which doesn’t seem too burdensome?
But if any Wye resident is still sucking on their teeth, they might like to read Tony Shoults’ excellent budget report (Budgetreport13-14final).
Personally I dream of a time when we can spend village money on more exciting things: community orchards, an arts festival, a resident cartoonist, cruises for the elderly and hot air balloon flights for all.