Portland Town Council is looking to increase its Council Tax precept by more than 260 per cent.

Interim Town Clerk, Wayne Lewin, outlined a draft precept for 2018/19 to councillors at a finance meeting.

He discussed increasing the current precept of £22.97 for Band D households to £83.02 next year.

The increase takes into account last year’s figures, this year’s expenditure, and future spends. It’s also based on the cost of services, which the council is expected to take on as part of Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) next year. The cost of LGR accounts for £59.50 of the £83.02 bill–an increase of 261 per cent.

Under the draft precept, the amount the town council spends on professional fees is to increase from £3,400 to £3,600 with an additional £15,000 set aside for the reorganisation. The town council is to set aside another £15,000 to pay for equipment needed as a result of LGR. Mr Lewin said: “If we are taking services on, we need the equipment to do the jobs.”

He said £72,000 would be needed to pay for the running costs of public toilets, if taken on by the town council.

However, the exact number of toilets taken on by the council won’t be known “until Weymouth and Portland Borough Council (WPBC) has decided what the deal is,” he said.

A total of £81,000 is set aside in the draft precept for greenspaces, with £77,000 of this intended for LGR. Mr Lewin said this includes staffing wages, there are currently three members of staff employed by WPBC. However, he added: “This was a figure given to us by the financial services of WPBC, of what it’s costing them.”

“We won’t know until way down the line.”

The amount of money the council spends on payroll would also increase under the draft precept.

Mr Lewin said: “The payroll was £33,800 this year and we have budgeted for £58,000 next year. There will be extra hours for the town clerk and the assistant town clerk and cleaning costs. There will also be more members of staff doing more hours. We have budgeted only £12,000 on payroll for members of staff to deal with LGR matters. If everything goes ahead your new precept will be £293,000, that sounds like an awful big leap from £81,074”, but he explained the town council will have more services to deliver.

He added that next year Portland Town Council will grow from a ‘teenage town council’ into an ‘adult town council’, and that it will become more like Swanage or Lyme Town Council in terms of the services it offers.

As part of LGR - Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is one of five district councils coming together to form the new Dorset Council.

As a result. Weymouth Town Council will also be formed and there will be a possible devolution of assets to both Portland Town Council and the new Weymouth Town Council.

The draft precept was put together on the prediction that the council tax set by the new Dorset Council will be lower, therefore offsetting the increase in Portland Town Council’s precept.