THE average Kingsmead taxpayer will see part of their council tax bill rise by almost £2 per month from April, as the parish precept increases.

Kingsmead Parish Council has raised its precept from £136,634 to £185,000 in a bid to build up reserves – of which it currently has none – and as a result of ‘new responsibilities’.

Councils are advised to have between three and six months’ budget held back as reserves, but in recent years the council has relied on a £100,000 developer contribution to offset major precept increases.

The cost to band D taxpayers – the median band, which is used as an average – will be £97.47 for the year, on top of payments for the Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire Fire, and Cheshire Police precepts.

Writing in the spring newsletter, parish council chairman Chris Reed said: “Next year’s council tax request … will include an increase in the parish council precept.

“This has been necessary for several reasons including new responsibilities for the maintenance and possible replacement of the wooden footbridges and the footpaths around he monument, clock tower and Coronet pond.

“We have also been informed by our auditors that we need to build a reserve fund of at least 25 per cent of the annual precept income. We have decided to build this reserve over a three-year period to reduce the impact on households.

“On a very positive note, our two main contractors have agreed to extend their contract period for an extra year at no additional cost. This means that the cost of maintaining grounds, ponds and trees has remained constant for four years.”

A breakdown of parish council tax spending over the past financial year shows that 73.1 per cent went on grounds maintenance, 12.5 per cent on staff costs, 5.9 per cent apiece on administration and events, 1.5 per cent on play areas and 1.1 per cent on grant funding.

The 2019/20 budget allows for 8.3 per cent spending on play areas.

Council initiatives include maintaining open park land, woodland, ponds and play areas, while also supplying and clearing 33 dog and litter bins.

The best kept garden competition also ran in 2018, three young citizens were supported through a grant scheme, and the Christmas lights ceremony was staged.