Rates across Newry, Mourne and Down Distict are to increase by 2.85% in the next financial year.
The rate was struck at a meetong on Monday with council saying the rise is necessary to cover the costs of public services including economic regeneration, planning, provision of leisure and community facilities and refuse collection and street cleansing.
The rates that residents of the district pay are made-up of the District Rate (which is agreed by the council) and the Regional Rate (which is agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive.
This money, along with the block grant that Northern Ireland receives from Westminster, is used to pay for public services.
Two sets of rates have been agreed as part of the District Rate: the Domestic Rate (for householders) and the Non-Domestic Rate (for businesses).
The Domestic Rate for 2020/2021 will be 0.4004 pence (2019/2020 equivalent 0.3893 pence).
For a property valued at £100,000, the annual increase of the District Rate for 2020/21 will be £11.10 per year or 92.5 pence per month.
The results of ‘Reval 2020’, the review of Non-Domestic rateable values in Northern Ireland by Land and Property Services, has been included in the Non-Domestic District Rate for 2020/2021, which will be 23.6209 pence.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey said: “One of the council’s most important responsibilities is to set a rate that enables us to fulfil our commitments to all our residents and businesses.
“At the same time, it is important that we take into account the challenging circumstances that our ratepayers, both domestic and non-domestic, are facing. This is even more important now that we are beginning the next phase of forging a new relationship with the EU.
“We believe the council has struck a realistic rate for 2020/21, one that will allow us to continue to improve both the essential services our citizens require and those projects and initiatives that will improve the lives of all our residents.
“We are, and can be, proud of our record of providing funding to our many community and local groups which deliver important projects throughout our district. For example, in the 2019/2020 year, we received 697 applications for funding.
“Of these, 497 groups received financial awards totalling £1.24m to deliver initiatives including summer schemes, good relations scheme, community events and festivals as well as tourism events, community and sports facilities.
“I wish to thank my fellow councillors and council’s senior management, for their determination to achieve a realistic rate for 2020/21, which takes account of the increased costs of dealing with the district’s waste, a 2% pay increase for local government staff, which was negotiated and agreed with Trade Unions at a Northern Ireland level, and a significant reduction in rates support grant.”
Council Chief Executive, Marie Ward added, “During the 2019/20 financial year, our Council has continued to deliver on a large number of our key priorities and made significant progress on others. In 2018/19 for example, we sent less than 5% of collected waste to landfill — out-performing all other local councils.
“This year we were pleased to open a new, state-of-the-art community centre in Saintfield with its first-class sports training facilities, as well as a much-anticipated new community centre at Kitty’s Road, Kilkeel. Most recently we opened the newly refurbished and extended Castlewellan Community Centre with funding from The Executive Office’s Social Investment Fund (SIF). All are excellent examples of partnership working between statutory and voluntary groups and the empowerment of local people in developing community provisions.
“We are looking forward to continuing to improve our facilities this year, with ambitious plans for regenerating Newry city centre as we progress the Civic Hub and theatre and conference space, as well as the regeneration of Downpatrick.
“The Belfast Region City Deal, which was agreed last year, will deliver important benefits for our district and will allow us to move forward with the Southern Relief Road as well as advancing the Newcastle Gateway to the Mournes, and essential development of skills and employability.
“We also completed two significant town centre revitalisation schemes, in partnership with the Department for Communities. In the Cathedral Corridor area of Hill Street Newry, a shop front enhancement project was completed and 24 shop fronts were improved in Warrenpoint, helping to regenerate the area.
“With work now commencing on new trade deals and with the Executive restored, it is even more important for us to continually build our relationships with Departments, the EU, cross border bodies and other institutions as we seek to bring greater prosperity to our area.”
Prior to the council meeting, Chairperson Councillor Charlie Casey launched the Council’s NMD Connect magazine.
This publication is produced annually to keep residents informed about what services, facilities, projects and programmes the Council has delivered over the past year and what it intends to do over the coming year.
NMD Connect includes the Council’s Annual Report.
The magazine is available to download via the Council’s website: https://www.newrymournedown.org/corporate-publications