WHILE many parishes are bearing the burden of cost-cutting district or county councils, Chichester City Council is bucking the trend.
In the past four years its annual income from hiring out facilities has soared by nearly £64,000, as revenue from leasing the Buttermarket and the Council House has proven to be increasingly profitable.
With this in mind, the city council is already planning a refurbishment and decoration of the main assembly room in the building, as well as a ‘major project on lighting the Council House’.
This has meant its council tax has stayed more or less the same for the past four years.
“It’s one of the lowest precepts for a council of this size in the UK,” said the chairman of the finance committee, Richard Plowman, at the city’s annual parish meeting last Wednesday.
The total income for Chichester City Council in the 2013/14 year for hiring out the council house, the Buttermarket, the allotments and the sale of goods was £153,600, and is projected to rise to £185,000 for this financial year.
This compares to £89,720 in 2010/11.
In the past year, income from the hiring of the council house in North Street alone raised £58,000 and the nearby Buttermarket raised a little more than £80,000.
The council works with a development partner, which maintains the Buttermarket building and deals with a lot of the day-to-day problems. The city council gets £50,000 from leases, anything further raised between £50,000-£100,000 goes to the partner. Anything raised over £100,000 is split between them.
Nevertheless, most of the funding for the city council still comes from its council tax precept, so Cllr Plowman said the council was working to invest in its own assets to boost income further and keep the council tax precept low.
He said this gave a ‘far better return’ for the city council.
To this end, the assembly room of the Council House is to undergo a major refurbishment this year and there is also a project in the pipeline for lighting the council house.