District rates decrease likely

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Members of Derry City Council will meet this afternoon to strike a new district rate for the next twelve months and it is expected to be slightly lower than last year.

A special meeting will be held in the Derry City Council offices, Strand Road, at 3pm today to hear recommendations from the Council’s policy and resources department and strike the new rate.

Council sources have indicated that the domestic rate is likely to be set at 2.2 per cent - a slight decrease on last year’s figure.

Last year’s rate was set at 2.99 per cent and was also down on the previous year.

Negotiations have been ongoing for several weeks between the political parties on Council, and also between the parties and Council officers, on what the rate should be for the year ahead.

“The talks have been going back and fourth for a number of weeks but it is likely that the domestic district rate will be set somewhere around 2.2 per cent,” the source said.

“If it is set at that, which seems likely, then it will be the lowest rate for a number of years. This will no doubt be welcomed by local ratepayers, particularly in these hard economic times,” the source added.

It is understood that the SDLP grouping on Derry City Council initially wanted the rate to be set at 1.98 per cent to keep rates bills low while the Sinn Féin grouping wanted it set at 2.5 per cent in order to provide more money for investment in leisure facilities. However, the source explained that a compromise figure of 2.2 per cent has been agreed.

The rate which is struck at this afternoon’s meeting will have to be formally ratified at the monthly meeting of Derry City Council at the end of the month.

Rates are collected by the Land and Property Service and the money is used to fund the services of Derry City Council, which include the running of City of Derry Airport, leisure provision, bin collection, and a range of other services.