Rates rise for both North Down and Ards
The average annual rates bills in North Down and Ards are to rise approximately £36 and £15 respectively.
In North Down, the council agreed a domestic rate of 0.2598p (a rise of 8.16 percent) for 2009/10.
For the average North Down household — that is a house valued at £154,000 — this represents a monthly increase to the rate bill of £2.50.
Commenting on the increase, chair of the council’s corporate committee, Councillor Alan Graham said: “Setting the rates is not about grabbing the headlines with a one-off low rate, it is about providing quality services and continued investment while consistently delivering a sustainable rate rise.
“North Down Borough Council has consistently delivered on this promise and between 1996 and 2006 it had the lowest cumulative rate rise of any Northern Ireland council.
“Maintaining this record is becoming more and more difficult and I make no apologies for reminding members of the external pressures that have inflated our rise this year.”
Councillor Graham highlighted increases in Landfill Tax charges, the introduction of rate capping and subsequent reduction of the local tax base, increased costs of rate collection, valuation appeals, and changes in the economic climate for the rates rise.
In Ards, meanwhile, the average annual rates bill is set to rise by approximately £15, after Ards Borough Council announced a rate increase of just under five percent.
The average capital value of a home in Ards is £127,523. The impact of a rise of 4.97 percent on a home valued at this level is £1.32 per month or £15.80 a year.
Mayor of Ards, Councillor Jim Fletcher, stressed the effect of the economic downturn on the council’s finances and its efforts to lessen the impact on local residents.
“Our decision has a direct impact on the money which our ratepayers have in their pockets and the responsibility we have to keep any rate increase to an absolute minimum, while still providing high quality, value-for-money services for the people of the Ards, is one we take seriously,” he said.
“This is an extremely tight budget and while we will continue to make efficiency savings where we can, in 2009/2010 there is no wriggle room for unplanned expenditure.”