Minutes of the Finance Committee held on Wednesday 3 February 2016 at 6pm in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Abergavenny.

Present: Cllr Mrs S Woodhouse (Chair), Cllrs C Woodhouse, Mrs M Powell, M J Hickman, Ms S Dodd, R harris, Mrs M Harris, D Edwards and D Simcock

In attendance: The Town Clerk

1. Apologies for absence were received from Cllr J L Prosser.

2. There were no declarations of interest.

3. The following grant application was considered:

a) Homestart Monmouthshire.

Members noted that this as the second successive grant application from this organisation. It was considered to be a worthwhile project with direct input to the town area. After some discussion it was agreed to recommend a grant 960 as requested.

4. Review of Photocopier arrangements.

Members noted that the existing photocopier had reached the end of its five year lease, and a proposal had been received for replacing it. The present machine continues to work satisfactorily, but there are technical problems with matching it to the Council`s computer, since the new computer was purchased last year.

Options for a three or five year lease or for a colour copier were considered. It was agreed to recommend that a new machine on a three year lease be agreed, to ensure that future technical problems matching the technology are minimised and that if the reorganisation of local councils occurs, there will not be an additional cost commitment outstanding.

5. The papers setting out the likely reductions in County services together with costs were received and noted. These will inform, the budget setting process.

6. Setting the Budget for 2016/17.

Members received the report and supporting papers from the Town Clerk. Last year an increase of 5 per annum on a Band D property had been added, with the intention to do the same this year. An exercise had been carried out in November of last year to pare back the existing budget and this had resulted in a saving of about 20,000. Adding this to the 23228 resulting from last year`s 5 increase and the 24038 resulting from a similar rise this year would provide about 67000 ongoing within the budget which can be used to support MCC services at risk. It was understood that MCC will not be considering exactly what they will cut until 10 March.

Cllr C Woodhouse considered that the Council should retain its present reserves as there are several large projects in the area which may need some input from this Council.

There was considerable discussion about whether we should continue to support MCC services, given that by not pursuing the original 4.95% increase MCC are in effect loading the cost onto local councils. It was noted that many Community Councils are taking the view that they are not prepared to pick up these costs, so it may place an unreasonable burden on the Town Councils. It was decided to leave any decisions on supporting MCC services until March but in the meantime to be prudent in setting a precept which will enable options to be pursued.

It was agreed to recommend that an increase of 5 on a Band D property be added again this year, making a total precept of 280,084 for the coming year.

The detailed budget papers are attached to these minutes, but will need further amendment after the MCC services review on 10 March when specific allocations can be made if agreed.

7. Finance Reports for Month 10.

The draft reports were received and noted. The Town Clerk referred to a recent meeting with the Internal Auditor when a number of operational points were raised and need correction. He will aim to get those points to the Council Meeting next week for approval.

8. Other business.

a) Cllr Edwards asked when the advertisement for the Town Clerk will be issued. He felt it was urgent that this appeared as soon as possible. It is intended to finalise this at Council next week, when the sub-committee reports back on its deliberations about the hours for the post.

b) He also noted the desire for a Legacy Project for the Eisteddfod, and suggested that an additional Gorsedd Stone could be added to the circle in Swan Meadow with a suitable inscription. He would be meeting someone about this and would report back.

This was noted.

The meeting ended at 6:55pm

Summary of recommendations.

1. A grant of 960 be made to Home-Start Monmouthshire.

2. A new Black and White Copier on a three year lease be purchased, with the facility to link to the computer for longer-run print jobs. The additional cost would be 11.45 per quarter

3. A precept of 280084 be sought making a charge of 58.26 per annum on a Band D property

4. Consideration of whether to support County Services to be delayed until MCC have made their decisions on 10 March.

5. The draft Finance Report for Month 10 be received.

6. The advertisement and time-table for recruiting a new Town Clerk be considered at Council.

7. Cllr Edwards` idea for an Eisteddfod Legacy project be considered in due course.