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Gillingham Town Council has approved in principle its approved its budget for the financial year 2020-21, which shows a rise of £50,594 on the previous financial year.

This equates to a rise of 5.77 percent, but it is too soon to say whether this means that the amount paid by local taxpayers towards the council’s budget will rise by the same amount. That will be known in early January when Dorset Council sets its tax base figure for council tax rates. It is, however, an indication of the likely rise in the Gillingham Town Council portion of the council tax bill.

In cash terms the council’s provision budget for 2020-21 shows a total expenditure of £940,037, which when offset against around £30,000 in income means the council will be setting a precept of £909,118 to raise from local taxpayers.

Introducing the provisional precept at meeting of the town’s finance committee on Monday 9 December, the committee’s chair Councillor Sharon Cullingford said they had worked hard to get ‘ value for money’ for council tax payers while also backing the ‘projects, functions and services that the community needs and values’.

She said the draft budget included money for services such as street cleaning, tree work, drainage work and maintenance of local public open spaces. And money has been set aside for vehicles and machinery, the replacement costs for defibrillators and future work to the Garden of Remembrance and the Town Hall.

Councillor Cullingford continued: ‘The draft budget also includes funding for repairs to the retaining wall and a section of path at the closed churchyard at the Parish Church. Funding has been allocated for the refurbishment of heritage highway finger-posts and on-going maintenance to the war memorials located in the High Street and at Milton-on-Stour.’

She added: ‘The draft budget supports youth services, leisure services and crime prevention initiatives as well as a financial contribution for services provided by Citizens Advice Central Dorset and provision for grant aid to be made to local groups and organisations that benefit our community. Funding has been allocated towards a new play area at Marlott Road, which the council plans to complete during 2020.

Councillor Cullingford said that the meeting had simply agreed the budget in principle. ‘The final figure and percentage increase will be confirmed at the Full Council meeting in January,’ she said.

The budget proposals were approved by councillors.

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