Newry, Mourne and Down District Council agreed its budget for the next financial year (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) at a meeting on Monday night.
The 1.59% increase in the District Rate will cover the costs of those public services the Council is responsible for, including the economic regeneration of the district, 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 2021/2022 will be 0.4067 pence (2020/2021 equivalent 0.4004 pence).
For a property valued at £100,000, the annual increase of the District Rate for 2021/22 will be £6.37 per year or 53 pence per month. The Non-Domestic District Rate for 2021/22 will be 23.9970 pence (2020/2021 equivalent 23.6209 pence).
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin said: “Setting the rate is one of the Council’s most important responsibilities, and one that enables us to fulfil our commitments to residents and businesses. However, this year has been a year like no other and we are acutely aware of the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the challenges facing many of our ratepayers as a result.
“In striking our rate for 2021/22 we have been very focused on looking towards the future of the district, mindful that the impacts of this pandemic are still with us but determined to plan for post-COVID recovery and revitalisation. We want to proceed with the economic and regeneration plans for our district whilst ensuring we sustain the Council financially over the next few years. Unlocking our tourism potential and supporting our local businesses remains a priority for me as your Chairperson.
“We can be proud of how we have responded as a Council to this public health crisis and we will continue to adapt our services as required. I have seen at first hand the efforts made to support the most vulnerable in our district over the past year and we will continue to work in partnership with other agencies to ensure we advocate for those most in need.”
Council Chief Executive, Marie Ward added: “As we struck the rate last year we had no concept of the challenges we would be facing as a Council in the following 12 months. Covid-19 has presented significant financial challenges to all Councils and we are no exception; however, I am pleased that we have been able to sustain many services and play a key role in responding to this pandemic.
“As a Council we moved quickly to make our services safe and we have continued to adapt as the public health guidance has demanded. Whether it is supporting businesses through virtual workshops, helping residents stay active or connected during lockdown, working with community partners to get help to our most vulnerable residents, or carrying out Environmental Improvements works in our towns and villages, we have not stood still. Thank you to everyone who worked with us to make such progress possible.
“Ambitious thinking is required now more than ever, and I am pleased that progress continues to be made on major plans to regenerate the district. Over the past year the Council has progressed comprehensive Outline Business Cases for both the Newry City Centre Regeneration and Gateway to the Mournes projects, while working with our Belfast Region City Deal partners on progressing regional programmes that will deliver digital and innovation infrastructure and an employability and skills programme.
“Ahead of the Council launching its new Corporate Plan for 2021-23 in January, a new Regeneration and Economic Development Strategy was also launched, the core of which is to support local businesses and attract investment and jobs to the district.
“There are certainly challenging times for all of us ahead, but none have suffered more than those who lost loved ones to COVID-19, or who are still recovering from this debilitating virus.
“Our thoughts continue to be with you, as well as with those facing economic hardship as result of the pandemic. I can ensure you of the Council’s commitment to press for the best possible outcomes for all our citizens as we begin to emerge from this pandemic.”