Rates rise expected in Mid Ulster

Mid Ulster Mail
Mid Ulster Mail

Householders are expected to face an increase in rates when the new Mid-Ulster District Council strikes its first estimates of income and expenditure on Thursday night.

Although council officers are still finalising the details, local politicians yesterday stressed that they have been working hard to maintain good services and keeping any rise to the minimum.

The Mail understands a possible increase of between two and four per cent could be on the cards.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton recently announced that home owners in Dungannon are eligible for a subsidy along with business owners in Magherafelt moving to the new super council, which comes into operation in April.

The council has already raised concerns over the “inadequate budget” for transferring services such as off street car parks and the planning department.

Sinn Féin group leader Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan stressed there was a limit to the cuts council can make.

He said they had to ensure that the people of Mid Ulster enjoyed good services like elsewhere.

Councillor Mallaghan said the council had to find extra funding to continue with public realm schemes in Dungannon, Cookstown, Magherafelt and Coalisland in addition to covering the cost of transferring planning to Magherafelt.

DUP Councillor Paul McLean said his party was mindful of the economic realities facing householders and the business community.

“We have been working towards an acceptable rate that will not be overburdensome to the public,” he said.

SDLP group leader Councillor Martin Kearney said he was hopeful the new rate would be “comfortable and stress free” for the public.

“The formation of the new council structure has not been a bed of roses,” he said. “We have been presented with unexpected shortcomings in the level of funding we had been promised.”

While welcoming the subsidy for some ratepayers, Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Trevor Wilson said so far as he was concerned more work needed to be done in reducing the rates.

“The UUP council grouping have been working to achieve the lowest possible rate,” he added.

Councillors are expected to hear more details on the estimates later today ahead of Thursday’s meeting when the council will make its decision.