Mid Ulster Holds Domestic Rates Rise to 3.24%
Mid Ulster District Council has held its rate increase for domestic customers to 3.24%, while the non-domestic rate dropped by 4.57%.
The decision, made at a special meeting of the Council yesterday (10 February), means that an average domestic ratepayer will pay £0.25 per week or £13.19 per annum more for the Council portion of their rates bill.
Once again, the continuing difficult financial climate and uncertainty of central government funding, with the amount of Rate Support Grant to be received by the Council still unknown but anticipated to decrease by some £700K, meant setting a budget was challenging.
The Council faced financial pressures amounting to more than £1.6M in comparison to 2019-2020, with a mix of savings and efficiencies of over £750K identified to offset the additional costs and to reduce the impact on ratepayers.
The year ahead will see the Council and its partners finalise a regional economic strategy for the Mid South West region which will identify key projects best suited to maximising the potential of the £125M growth deal funding which was confirmed by the UK government in the summer of 2019.
And among the major capital developments for 2020-2021 is the new £1.2M Dark Sky Observatory at Davagh Forest which will open in early April, and which has received funding investment of £500K from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and a further £245k towards the project from the Landfill Tax Fund.
2020 will see the completion of the £3.4M public realm scheme in Coalisland, which is set to transform the look and feel of the town centre, with over £3M in funding from the Department for Communities (DfC).
In addition, proposed works at Ballyronan Marina and Roundlake near Fivemiletown, and on-going investment in play and leisure facilities are also planned in the year ahead.
Monies allocated to the £1M grant aid scheme for the local community and voluntary sector will increase by £35K, while a new apprenticeship programme is valued at a further £20K.
Speaking after the rate was agreed, Chair of the Council, Councillor Martin Kearney, emphasised the Council’s strong financial position:
Mid Ulster has the lowest level of debt of all 11 councils here and the third lowest domestic rate, with the cost of our services amounting to £20 per head of the population less than any other local authority.
And yet, our services are extensive and we continue to invest in the growth of our district, from major multi-million pound town centre, leisure and tourism projects to the smaller, but nonetheless vital schemes which enhance local play parks, sports provision, community development and village regeneration right across Mid Ulster.
Major capital investment in Mid Ulster in the last number of years has included £2.5M in the recently re-opened Dungannon Leisure Centre, the development of Seamus Heaney HomePlace, the £4.2M arts and literary centre in Bellaghy, and more than £10M in 3 public realm schemes in Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt.
Waste infrastructure has benefited from a £750K refurbishment programme at Drumcoo Recycling Centre and, in 2018, a new state of the art £1.8M waste transfer station opened, modernising how waste services are managed.
From 2015-2019, 21 projects in 21 villages have received new facilities and enhancements as part of the £2.1M Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Union through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, with a further 16 projects to be delivered.
While a decrease for non-domestic ratepayers, the majority of whom are businesses, appears to be positive, it will not automatically equate to a corresponding decrease in their rate bills.
Whether businesses’ rates rise or fall will, in fact, be determined by the outcome of the revaluation exercise undertaken by central government, together with any increase in the regional rate – that part of the rate which is set by the NI Assembly and which accounts for 57% of the rate bill, with only 43% going to fund services in Mid Ulster.
For more information visit our rates page.