Much has been made recently about the sterling efforts of Northern Ireland councils in keeping their rate increases below the level of inflation.
While generously patting themselves on the back, they neglected to inform hard-pressed ratepayers that they had enjoyed their own special bonus last year in the form of millions of pounds of extra income from the rating of empty homes which commenced in October 2010.
This bonanza should have meant that, far from an increase in rates this year, we should all be paying less. Belfast City Council plans to extend the Waterfront Hall to accommodate international companies.
They also have plans to paint fibreglass cows and chuck the rest of the rates bonanza down that other well-known black hole - leisure centres.
The dire situation in Northern Ireland is in contrast to the rest of the UK, where regional governments have imposed a freeze in local taxation.
Instead of conning the public into thinking they have done a good job, our Assembly and local councillors should be hanging their heads in shame.