Shaftesbury Town Council’s council tax will break through the £0.5 million barrier for the first time this year.
The council last night agreed to set its precept, or council tax, for Shaftesbury for 2019-20 at £500,996.
This compares with this year’s total of £480,183. But because there are more houses in the town, and more residents paying tax, the net effect under the way council tax is calculated is a zero increase – with the average for a Band D household remaining at £156.62, the same level as the current year.
But town clerk Claire Commons warned councillors that a zero increase would be unlikely in future if the council’s newly-adopted five-year plan is to take account of inflation and the effects of the reorganisation of local government in Dorset.
Town and parish councils are expected to be asked to take a greater share of the cost of service delivery in the county following the introduction of the new unitary Dorset Council in April.
Shaftesbury’s council tax for 2019-20 is divided roughly between 75% for staff, general management and town hall costs and 25% for service delivery including swimming pool costs, grants and council projects.
Among projects the council is hoping to see happen over the next year are improvements to Castle Hill, the town’s swimming pool, the Bell Street public toilets, the town hall, playground equipment, street furniture and the steps in The Park.
New projects include new allotments on newly-acquired council land by the A30, extra cycleways, heritage lanterns to replace the unsuitable modern ones, strategic tree-planting and traffic calming measures in the town centre.
But all Dorset’s councillors face an election in May this year and members agreed there is no guarantee that the new town council after May 9 will necessarily agree with this programme or want to continue with it.