COUNTY council bosses want to charge Mold Town Council to use its town hall – and taxpayers will have to pick up the bill.

Flintshire Council owns the building in Earl Road, but is now proposing to charge the town council for rent and maintenance of the town hall office.

The additional cost to the town council will be £23,500 in 2011/12.

In a bid to meet the extra costs Mold Town Council has proposed to increase its precept – the amount it takes from council tax payers – by 18 per cent.

At a recent meeting of Mold Town Council, members admitted they had no other option.

Cllr Geoff Collet said: “We have been forced to do this because Flintshire Council is transferring costs from them to us.”

Cllr Tony Cattermoul added: “This increase of 18 per cent is solely a result of the county council’s decision to charge us for this building and charge us a lot of money.”

Town clerk Fred Boneham said that unless the precept was increased, the council’s projected overspend for 2011/12 would be £27,824.

“If we don’t bite the bullet now we could be facing quite severe difficulties in years to come,” he said.

The 18 per cent increase will see council tax payers living in an average band D property pay an additional £7.31 per year to the town council, which equates to 14p per week and will generate an additional £31,156 for the town council.

Cllr Collet said : “I appreciate the problems we find ourselves in, but we are talking about an 18 per cent increase at a time when many people in Mold are having a hard time.”

Cllr Andrea Mearns stressed it was essential tax payers knew exactly why they were being hit with such a sharp increase.

“If we have got to go down this 18 per cent route then I suggest we communicate very clearly with residents why we have done this.

“We are spending public money and they have got to be told what it is being spent on.”

The town council agreed to approve the budget.

A spokesman for Flintshire Council said: “The county council owns Mold Town Hall and the town council are occupiers of part of the premises. Discussions are taking place to ensure that the terms of occupation are up to date and fair to all parties.

“Naturally any discussions at the present time are on a commercial basis and are confidential between the parties. In principle for a building of this type a global payment or reimbursement would cover a number of issues such as rent, rates and other outgoings.

“It would therefore be inaccurate and misleading to focus purely on any rental arrangements.

“The county council seeks to ensure that tenants of a building such as this are treated in a fair and uniform manner.”