Residents to pay up with rising rates

Local householders will not be pleased to learn that yet another bill is on the increase after Banbridge District Council struck a new rate, with a rise of two per cent.

That feeling was also shared by some councillors, with Policy and Resources Committee Chairman Councillor Junior McCrum expressing his disappointment that the increase was not lower.

Despite the increase, this is still the lowest rates hike of the last seven years and is the equivalent to 15 pence per week on the average household rate.

During a recorded vote at the council’s Policy and Resources Committee meeting on Monday January 27, some councillors felt that in the current climate a lower rate was called for but there was a general recognition that this increase maintains a link with the falling annual inflation rate managed by the Central Bank as a prelude to a recovering economy.

By using Council financial reserves, a two per cent increase in the district rate will fund a 3.5 per cent increase in expenditure, offering ratepayers better value for money. Combined with the 2.7 per cent regional rate, which is set by the Northern Ireland Assembly, this equates to a total of £19.50 increase per annum on the average rate bill of £823.

Commenting on the proposed rate, to be ratified at the next full council meeting, Mr McCrum said: “I am very disappointed that the proposal from my group to use additional reserves to reduce the increase to one per cent was not carried.

“However, this committee is very conscious of the continuing financial pressures on households and businesses in the current economic climate and for this reason has restricted the district rate to the annual inflation rate.

“In effect this has meant a detailed review of all services to find the savings necessary to pay those utility and other bills which invariably increase at a rate beyond inflation.”