The new Mid-Ulster Council have been asked to ‘carefully consider’ any capital expenditure to protect rate payers and businesses, following a motion passed by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council.
The motion was brought before the council by DUP Councillor Rodger Burton and was passed unanimously after lengthy discussions.
Cllr Burton made the point that Dungannon and South Tyrone’s ‘own record of quality service’ to rate payers and their record of keeping rates increase at zero for the past five years be considered by the new Council when spending.
“I have real concerns about this and I am simply asking that the new council will deal wisely with new capital expenditure.
“I believe there will be a significant rise, I just dread to think. How will businesses survive when they are already struggling?” Cllr Burton questioned.
DUP Councillor Clement Cuthbertson who is also a member of the new Mid Ulster Council said he supported the motion and congratulated Dungannon officers and councillors for being about to keep the rate at zero for five years.
“There are very worrying times ahead. I have been contacted by one man whose rentable value has gone up by 96% another one whose has gone up by 50%.”
Cllr Cuthbertson also raised the issue that at the last Mid Ulster Council meeting £4million was awarded to the project to create a Seamus Heaney Centre,
“It is coming out of our budget and rates. Everyone recognises that Seamus Heaney and he is world renowned but there is no justification to award that amount without external funding. I think it’s scandalous.”
Independent Councillor Barry Montieth said he supported the motion but was keen to point out that the new Mid Ulster Council were told the funding for the Seamus Heaney Centre “was already contained within existing rates.”
Sinn Fein Councillor, Sean McGugian added that the Chief Executive of Magherafelt council informed the new Council that the “money is already there to do it”.