Council strikes 1.9% annual rate increase Figure ‘well below’ the rate of inflation as households will only pay £8 extra a year

MAGHERAFELT District Council has agreed an annual domestic rate increase of 1.97 per cent “significantly below the rate of inflation”, councillors have said.

The annual increase was approved by all representatives at Tuesday night’s full council meeting.

The figure means householders will pay £8 a year extra on top of last year’s rates bill.

Speaking after deliberations came to a close, Chairman Ian Milne said: “All parties on Council have been working tirelessly with officers over the last few months to strike a rate that maintained core services without adding significant additional financial burden to residents and businesses in the district.”

Various factors influenced the rate increase including additional recycling costs, increases in landfill tax and employer’s sueprannuation contributions and reductions in income due to the recession. Soaring energy costs have also impacted on the figure.

A series of cross party meetings took place throughout January and February prior to the announcement where officers and representatives discussed how existing services could be maintained without an undue increase.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Council Vice Chair George Shiels said: “Council has tried to maintain a balance whereby the most vulnerable in the community would be protected from reduced services and substantial rates increases.”

“Council is very conscious of the difficult economic climate which currently exists and has been able to maintain core services by identifying further efficiencies and sources of income.

“This has allowed Council to keep the rates well below inflation.”

Sinn Fein Chairman Ian Milne added: “This summer Magherafelt District Council will open the first 50m pool in Northern Ireland.

The Greenvale Leisure Centre will be the best facility of all 26 councils and has been delivered without any additional financial burden being placed on rate payers.

“This is a great achievement for a rural council of our size and adds to the excellent facilities that exist within the district.

“It is something that we call all be proud of and re-emphasises the strong financial prudence that the Council continues to have.”