DORCHESTER town council is expected to approve a two per cent increase in its share of local council tax from April.

Town councillors were told at a meeting on Monday evening that because of building growth in the area it would be slightly better off next year – although some of the increased income will be hit by rises in national insurance contributions for its staff, an expected pay rise and a predicted continuing reduction in income in its share of profits from Dorchester markets and other activities.

The town’s management committee was told that its balanced budget for 2022/23 would mean it should still be able to help with anticipated cuts in services yet to be made by Dorset Council, should the need arise.

One of the council’s big ticket spending areas is the Municipal Buildings which have undergone a £2million refurbishment, including a new roof. Subject to full council agreement on January 24th the council is proposing to go ahead with the planned borrowing of £500,000 before the end of March to help meet the cost of the works.

Works to the front of the Municipal Buildings have now been largely completed with the new audio visual equipment installed and the retractable seating almost completed. Like other building projects the work has been delayed by several months due to staff and material shortages.

Town councillors were told that the contractor for the biomass boiler has now been asked to start work with completion expected towards the end of June 2022, with a programme of works to be approved to minimise disruption to the building, parts of which date to 1847.

Other changes being factored in for next year’s budget include an increase of £5 to £40 for annual tennis court fees for non-Dorchester residents and a rise in cemetery fees to bring the town closer to the fees charged in Weymouth. The typical cost of an adult burial is expected to rise from £665 to £715.

Councillors were told that Income from some areas it manages have continued to reduce, largely because of Covid, including fees from tennis courts, football pitches, bowling and room hire.

Pic – New retractable seating being installed at Dorchester’s Municipal Buildings. Courtesy Dorchester town council.