Mid & East Antrim ratepayers face rate rise of less than 1%

The Braid. (Editorial Image)
The Braid. (Editorial Image)
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Domestic rates in Ballymena, Larne and Carrick are to rise by 0.98% for 2016-17.

Mid & East Antrim District Council struck a new district domestic rate of 0.3999 pence in the pound at a special meeting in The Braid tonight (Thursday) and a district non-domestic rate of 27.9666 pence.

When the regional rate is included, this will represent an increase of 22 pence per week for the average household in the borough and an average increase of £2.84 per week for businesses.

Councillors unanimously agreed the new rate which was proposed by Alderman Tommy Nicholl who said Council had restricted the increase in the light of “the challenging economic climate faced by all ratepayers of the borough” and pointed out that it was below the rate of inflation.

“This low increase has been achieved by Council absorbing significant cost increases and, in response, we have commenced a Business Improvement and Efficiency Strategy to ensure that we minimise any impact on the ratepayer going forward,” he said.

Seconding the proposal, Cllr Declan O’Loan said he was “content” to support the “small increase” stating: “The public should be aware that the Council faced financial pressures which, without savings elsewhere, would have pushed the rates up much more than is proposed. These include increased landfill tax, a 1% pay rise, and the loss of a large National Insurance rebate.”

He went on, however, to make “a number of cautionary points” including potential further capital spend of £650K on The Gobbins.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the Mayor, Cllr Billy Ashe said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to keep the rate increase below one per cent.

“In the coming year, we are absorbing increasing costs outside our control, such as the introducing of the National Living Wage, changes in National Insurance and increases in waste disposal costs. This approach represents a sensible balance between keeping rates as low as possible, whilst still enabling us to grow the local economy in the borough as we have committed to do, to invest in our facilities and to provide high -quality services to the public,” he stated.