New district rate struck

February 18, 2013

By Christine Keighery

Last Monday’s Council meeting saw Newry and Mourne District Council agree a 1.3% increase in the district rate, which means households in Newry and Mourne District face an increase of 2% in their overall rates bill (assuming Regional Rate increases by 2.7%).

The increase will mean an average of 42p per week or £21.77 per annum on a property with a capital rate value of £100,000.

The Mayor, Councillor John McArdle thanked Councillors and Management for their cooperation in achieving what he described as “a realistic rate for 2013/14” and said he was pleased that Newry and Mourne District Council have continuously achieved their objective of striking a rate which “is appropriate and realistic.”

A council spokesperson said the increase was the only way to ensure that the council could continue to deliver on a number of key regeneration schemes throughout the district.

Highlighting some of the schemes already delivered in 2012, the spokesperson continued:

“During 2012/13 year the Council continued to deliver a programme of capital developments throughout the district.

“These included a number of schemes such as the completion of the Phase 1 of the Regeneration of the Public Realm Scheme at Hill Street and Monaghan Street and the completion of the Rostrevor Forest Mountain Bike Track.

“For 2013/14 the Council’s Capital Development Programme will include the commencement of Phase 1 of the £9million new Swimming Pool at Rooney’s Meadow in Newry, as well as an Events Space at Kilbroney Park and the commencement of Phase II of the Slieve Gullion Sub Regional Play Area.

“In addition to its existing programme of major/minor events in 2013/14, the Council will facilitate the World Police and Fire Games in Kilbroney Park, and assist with the promotion and organization of the International Currach Championships at Warrenpoint Foreshore.

“The Council will continue to fund community initiatives through its voluntary contribution scheme.  The gross budget of £1,229,402, which includes economic development, covers a diverse range of schemes and project and acts as a catalyst to lever substantial funds for community sectors.”

SDLP Group Leader, Connaire McGreevy said that while the objective of the SDLP group was to have a zero increase, the current economic climate determined otherwise and the 1.3% increase was the best deal that could be hammered out.

Councillor McGreevy pointed out that the Council was facing the reality of having to fund a significant capital programme as part of a wide ranging programme to help bring development to the area.

“The positive element of this debate between management and Councillors is that we have achieved a rate increase below inflation” he said.

Sinn Fein Group Leader, Mickey Ruane agreed that while the rates increase was not ideal, it was the best that could be realistically hoped for.  He described the new rate as “the lowest figure we could achieve without affecting essential services that the council provides to members of the public.

“The new sports centre will be the biggest project the council has ever undertaken and is a project that all councillors have committed to.

“Both Newry and Mourne councillors and officials need to be commended for being able to strike the rate as low as it is for this year, given the major projects that are due to start.”

The breakdown of the Council rates is available on the Council website