The new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council has struck its new rate – with an average rise of 14p a week for householders.
But it must be stressed that that is the average across the new council area and, in fact, the rates of those living in the current Armagh City and District Council should actually decrease.
Some of those living in the other council areas will be hit harder and that is why, as previously reported, a rates subsidy will exist, decreasing annually over the course of the next four years, which will be applied automatically to help ease the burden of those impacted upon most.
Armagh already had the highest rate of the three council areas so ratepayers there should actually be better off. On that vein, the increase will hit those in Banbridge hardest and Craigavon should notice a minimal increase.
Councillors representing constituents across the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council area have for the last number of months been involved in a thorough examination of the annual budget and of the resources available to the new council.
The rate was struck at a meeting in Banbridge last night (Thursday).Presiding Chair of Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon District Council, Councillor Darryn Causby, commented: “All those involved in the process have been extremely mindful of the difficult balance that needed to be struck between providing high quality services and protecting our ratepayers from increasing bills.
“This has been a very challenging rate setting process for the new council. Not only have we had to address issues of rates convergence across the three council areas, but we have also had to deal with budget cuts from Stormont and reduced budgets for transferring services.
“Councillors have jointly agreed a new domestic rate of 0.4000 and a non-domestic rate of 24.2011. This will increase the average domestic rate bill across the new council area by £7.50 per year or £0.14 per week.
“Non-Domestic ratepayers will see changes to their bills as a result of the re-valuation exercise carried out centrally by the Department of Finance and Personnel; the council’s element of the non-domestic bill will increase by 1.78%.”
Councillor Darryn Causby continued: “Council believes this modest increase strikes the right balance of improvements in front line services and a continued programme of capital investment.
“While economic challenges remain, the new council, which will be the largest outside Belfast, with a population over 200,000 residents and a budget of £85 m, is committed to providing high standards of service, capital investment projects to help create a strong hub of sustainable employment and facilities that every resident and visitor can enjoy.”
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