Almost 2% rise in rates in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area

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Rates in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area are to rise by almost two percent.

The domestic rate for 2019/20 is to rise by 1.96 per cent, said a statement from the council.

The statement pointed out that this rate is a third lower than the rate agreed last year.

The Council said the average householder could expect a monthly rise in their bill of 74p.

It was pointed out that this will include the budget for the council’s capital investment programme which includes a number of projects over the next three years, such as almost £5.8m as part of the new Play Strategy to support recreation opportunities and improved child development.

There are £20m worth of combined investments committed to Armagh, Banbridge, Dromore and Lurgan for local regeneration and public realm improvements, reflecting similar commitments and work already completed elsewhere including Portadown and Richhill.

This is in addition to delivering a major £5m development plan for Gosford Forest Park to build on its future and success.

Rural villages will benefit from investment projects worth more than £4m.

A Council spokesperson said the agreement on the rates followed ‘full scrutiny of the annual budget presented and the priorities under consideration for the year ahead’.

“It also reflects not only significant investments undertaken and planned but also a unanimous commitment to ensuring that key services are maintained and improved.

“Non-domestic ratepayers, who account for around 40% of all local funds raised, will also see a similar adjustment to their bills for the year ahead.

“Councillors agreed a domestic rate of 0.4312 and a non-domestic rate of 26.0884. “

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty, said: “Acknowledging the financial pressures and the wider economic challenges, the Council worked extremely hard to make sure that any increase was kept at its lowest possible while also protecting the economic health of the area and the significant investments planned.

“A strong and balanced budget which puts the needs and expectations of residents and businesses first is our priority and despite pressures our Council remains committed to delivering quality services and investing for the future”.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Paul Duffy, said: “Through strong financial management, efficiency savings and our success in securing millions of pounds of additional funding, we look forward to implementing an investment programme worth £102 million over the next three years across a variety of targeted projects across our borough.”

Benefiting from a ringfenced investment of more than £35 million, one of the Council’s largest-ever capital projects - the creation of a new state-of-the-art leisure centre in Craigavon – is on track to open next year.

Rates bills are made up of two parts – the district rate which pays for council services and the regional rate which pays for services provided by central government.

The regional rate, which makes up approximately half of rates bills, has yet to be agreed for 2019-20.