Parish finances in good shape
Ratepayers attending the annual Parish Rates Assembly at the beginning of August agreed that our rates should rise this year, ending a 9 year period of there being no increase. During much of that time the amount of rateable property increased enabling us to manage our finances without putting up the rates and we also succeeded in increasing non rates revenue. But as I indicated at last year’s Rates Assembly that wasn’t a situation that could last indefinitely, especially given the rising cost of living and a temporary slow down in the amount of new rateable property; nevertheless, the increase in Parish rates of 8.7% is still below inflation and we will continue to exercise thrift and good housekeeping, taking steps to develop non rates’ income to help us meet the significant challenges presented to the Parish caused by the rapidly increasing cost of living.
The ability to determine how much we pay in rates, or local taxation, is practically unique to Jersey and is one of the cornerstones of the Parish system, a fact which appears to have been lost on the few critics of St Helier’s finances who have aired their opinions in the media recently. St Helier remains the only Parish which has adopted GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) type accounts, thanks to the work of former Procureur du Bien Public, Clive Barton MBE, and we also convene our elected Accounts Committee to scrutinise our quarterly accounts as well as the final accounts, which are also rigorously examined by the Parish’s independent auditors.
I’m grateful to the Parishioners who have replied to the Letter to Ratepayers which was included with this year’s rates bills, some of whom have complimented the Parish on keeping the Parish rate frozen for so long, others who have made constructive suggestions for how we can continue to maintain good financial controls in St Helier – please keep the ideas coming.