Magherafelt rates set at 1.97%

MEMBERS of Magherafelt Council this week adopted a new district rate of 0.2693p in the £, representing an increase of 1.97 per cent on the current year’s figure.

It covers both domestic and business rates and allows for an estimated ned expenditure of £9.6m on local services in the coming year.

Agreement was hammered out between representatives of the various parties at meetings in January and last month.

Sinn Fein Councillor Ian Milne proposed the adoption of the rate, seconded by SDLP Councillor Kate Lagan.

The main increases are in landfill tax (£100,000), employers superann (£60,000), estimated wage (£60,000) and audit/internal audit (£16,500).

Savings were made on waste disposal (£60,000), Maghera leisure centre (£46,000), building control (£30,000).

Speaking after the meeting, Sinn Fein council leader Councillor Sean McPeake said the council had done well to keep the increase below two per cent.

While he appreciated the difficult economic climate, he said there were some increases such as landfill tax and superann which were unavoidable.

“It’s a reflection that Magherafelt Council is still one of the most prudent and it will probably once again be amongst the lowest rate increases out of the 26 councils,” he said.

Ulster Unionist Councillor George Shiels said he voted against the increase.

Mr Shiels claimed Sinn Fein had put “£20,000 onto the rates for sporting grants although the headline 1.97 per cent was still the same.”

“I think this was irresponsible given that people are getting it tight out there,” he added.