Dungannon residents are facing a rise of almost six per cent in their annual rates bill, under the new Mid Ulster District Council.
In a statement, the council which takes control from the start of April said the rate increase will be among the lowest of the 11 new councils across the North.
The new rate, taking an assumed regional rate increase of 1.4% and applying rate subsidy where appropriate, sees an average domestic ratepayer in Dungannon paying 5.81% more on existing bills, Cookstown will pay 2.74% more on existing bills, and 5.63% more for an average ratepayer in Magherafelt.
Presiding Chairman Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan, said the new council had faced several challenges in establishing the finances for the first year of the new authority.
“We not only faced the challenges of merging three distinct organisations, but the difficulties of clarifying the budgets of services transferring from central government. We have chosen also to absorb the impact of the cuts which have been imposed regionally in the interests of maintaining high quality service delivery and that’s in addition to the external factors beyond our control from inflation on goods and services to superannuation costs.
“While it is clear we are operating in a complex political, social and economic context and have perhaps faced greater financial pressures than have previously been experienced, we do not wish to stand still and are determined to contribute to the growth of our district.
Cllr. Mallaghan added: “Our budget, therefore, reflects that goal, with additional resources dedicated to ensuring we can build on existing economic development and regeneration activity, continue to support and deliver development initiatives in rural areas, continue to tap into the very real tourism potential of Mid Ulster, optimising our tourism product, investing in it and enhancing it with internationally-significant projects like the Heaney Centre in Bellaghy and the on-going development of our links with the O’Neill’s.
“All told, the Council had to find an additional £4M on top of the three councils’ existing budgets to be able to strike a rate which accounted for the range of financial pressures we had to meet, while also working to deliver and develop quality services”.
External factors influencing the final rate decision were costs of local government reform amounting to some £1.5M, the impact of central government cuts and reduced activity totalling £0.55M, organisational resource pressures of £0.51M and funding of development initiatives of approximately £0.4M.
The new rate, taking an assumed regional rate increase of 1.4% and applying rate subsidy where appropriate, sees an average domestic ratepayer in Cookstown pay 2.74% more on existing bills, an average ratepayer in Dungannon paying 5.81% more on existing bills and 5.63% more for an average ratepayer in Magherafelt.
Notwithstanding the potential impact of the non-domestic revaluation over which the Council has no control, the equivalent non-domestic average ratepayer would pay 0.72% more in Cookstown, 3.23% more in Dungannon and 2.02% more in Magherafelt.