HOUSEHOLDERS in Knutsford are to be asked to pay just over £7 more on average for services which are provided by their town council.

Knutsford Town Council’s element of the total Council Tax bill is due to increase from April for the 2019/2020 financial year by £7.17 for a Band D property.

That is equivalent to 14p per week, with more than half the increase for the coming 12 months being due to work on maintaining a listed building in King Street.

More than 20 per cent of the rise is accounted for by the need for the council to balance its budget, and a further 18 per cent of the increase is down to taking over the town cemetery.

Proposed expenditure by the council for 2019/2020 is £585,256.

Town clerk Adam Keppel-Green said the town council was responsible for the external maintenance of 60 King Street – the Belle Epoque – which is a grade II* building.

He said: “An increased programme of work is required over the next five years, which means that the rent we gain from the building cannot be used to reduce the precept as it has for the past few years.

“This has the net effect of requiring us to raise an additional £21,500 from the precept - £3.71 on a Band D property, or 7p per week.”

The town council will be taking back responsibility for Knutsford Cemetery from January next year.

Adam added: “The business case for this will see the cemetery generate a net surplus for the council year-on-year, but there is £7,500 of set-up costs in the next year, which equates to £1.29 on a Band D property, or 2p per week.

“To reduce the precept in 2018, the council removed £9,000 from reserves. Our reserves are now at a level where it would not be good financial management to reduce them further.

“As we cannot remove a further £9,000 from reserves, this must come from the precept to balance our budget.

“This equates to £1.55 on a Band D property, or 3p per week.”

Adam stressed that the town council scrutinised every line of its budget through the spending committee, finance committee and the full council.

“He said: “We look to spend our funds in the most efficient way possible and generate income where there is opportunity, such as through sponsorship.”