Rates to rise by 1.4%

RATES in Cookstown are set to rise by 1.4% from April.

This is one of the lowest rate rises in recent years and is set to come into force in April.

Cookstown Council says it has sought to keep the increase to an ‘absolute minimum’.

The council says it aims to ‘deliver a package of services and investments designed to contribute towards stimulating economic activity throughout the local economy’.

In a joint statement from Cookstown District Council the four party leaders, Councillor Sean Clarke (Council Chairman), Councillor Ian McCrea MLA, Councillor Tony Quinn and Councillor Trevor Wilson said the Council was intent on continuing its ‘ongoing efficiency programme’ as well as investing in the infrastructure of town and villages to facilitate job creation and economic growth.

“As party leaders, we have been working tirelessly with Council’s executive team to ensure that we continue to deliver our essential front line services as required by the community, continue to invest in the infrastructure of our District and utilise our financial resources to attract and lever financial investment into our District from external sources,” said the joint statement.

“Cookstown District is renowned for maximising all economic and social opportunities available to it and this budget package for 2012/13 which reflects a minimal rate increase of 1.4%, confirms our desire to continue to deliver highly valued quality services throughout our District, focussing upon those things that matter most to our residents and visitors.

“Collectively, our Council officer team and fellow Elected Members were determined to keep any rate increase to an absolute minimum. In striking a rate of 1.4% we have successfully managed to absorb a range of cost increases levied externally and beyond our control, yet still strike a rate some 70% lower than the rate of inflation.

“Indeed, through sound financial management together with the prudent use of capital resources to fund specific schemes, we are able to progress a range of strategic initiatives that, as well as meeting our stakeholders demands and expectations will also stimulate economic activity and job creation opportunities.

“In our determination to support our small and medium sized businesses, our proposed economic development projects will assist over two hundred local businesses towards improving their efficiency, competitiveness and business development opportunities. Furthermore, Council will continue to support our independent traders and continue investing in our town centre, spearheading ongoing physical improvements schemes with local traders and property owners.

“Considerable effort will be made towards reinvigorating our local communities, in particular our main villages. Council has already commissioned the preparation of village plans supported by the local communities and has committed itself towards spearheading the implementation of numerous investment schemes contained within such plans, designed to prevent further dilapidation and stimulate much needed economic activity.

“This budget package for 2012/13 also allows for significant investment in further enhancing facilities at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena to meet growing demand from users ,the provision of a nationally recognised mountain bike facility in Davagh Forest as well as improving Council’s waste management collection and disposal services for domestic and commercial users.

“Each of our political parties remain committed to our goal of making the Cookstown District the best possible place to live, work and visit. Our year on year internal efficiency programme is enabling Council to adopt a prudent financial approach in these current difficult economic circumstances, matched only by our determination to continue to be recognised as a progressive and ambitious Local Authority, working and delivering on behalf of its stakeholders.”