doc

Chairman of Keighley Town Council’s finance committee will urge councillors to vote in favour of a 2.66 per cent increase to the council’s precept for 2014/15.

Town council members are due to hammer out details of the budget for 2014/15 at their meeting in Keighley Town Hall this evening.

However, Councillor John Philip warned the 2.66 per cent figure was a “minority proposal”, which had not even been accepted by the finance committee.

He conceded: “Anything could happen on Thursday – it’s certainly going to be interesting.”

His recommended increase this year contrasts sharply with the council’s controversial decision for its 2013/14 precept, which it voted to put up by a record 72.6 per cent.

Late last year, Keighley’s mayor, Councillor Sally Walker, warned ratepayers to brace themselves for another severe impact on the precept for 2014/15 due to issues over which the council had “absolutely no control”.

She said the council was facing additional losses of up to £73,541 due to government financial changes and the demands imposed by the parishioners’ campaign group Cavetown Council.

However, Coun Philip said a modest 2.66 per cent precept rise would be enough to meet the council’s objectives.

“It takes care of everything the council needs to do for the financial year,” he added. “There is even £55,000 in this budget to pay for the external auditor investigation.

“If it wasn’t for that, the precept rise could have been zero, easily.”

Objections to Keighley Town Council’s 2012-13 accounts are currently the subject of an investigation by the council’s external auditor, London-based firm PKF Littlejohn.

Concerns brought to the auditors’ attention by Keighley residents have included allegations of unlawful grants and loans, omissions from the town council’s asset register, unlawful trading and failure to comply with financial regulations.

Coun Philip pointed out the £55,000 allocated to pay for the external audit could instead be used for 55 £1,000 Oak fund grants for local community projects, or for 220 £250 Acorn fund grants.

This evening’s town council meeting is due to start at 6.30pm.