3.46% rate hike was down on 5% mooted

Rates struck.
Rates struck.

The 3.46 per cent rate rise struck this week would have been closer to five per cent had it not been for the work officers and councillors carried out to avoid overburdening homeowners with the local property tax.

At a meeting to agree the hike of £15.58 per year on average per ratepayer on Monday it was revealed the increase could have been higher but for behind-the-scenes efforts to reduce the figure.

Sinn Féin Councillor, Eric McGinley, supporting the increase, that will finance a range of services, capital developments and catalyst projects linked to the Derry and Strabane City Deal, revealed that at the start of the process to set the rates they were originally looking at a figure closer to 5 per cent.

He said that this was reduced following a series of meetings and suggestions and the figure slashed to avoid placing an “unacceptable demand on homeowners”.

SDLP Colr. Martin Reilly concurred that the figure first presented to councillors was “a lot higher” than the 31.0748p in the Pound for Non-Domestic properties and of 0.4845p in the Pound for Domestic properties for the year ending, March 31, 2020, that was ultimately struck on Monday. Agreeding the 3.46% increase Colr. Reilly said: “This strikes a good balance.” He said it was through the “good work of the officers we’ve been able to get that down”.

In 2019 rates will help fund three significant cross border greenway developments from Derry to Buncrana, Derry to Muff and Strabane to Lifford and the local greenway at Ebrington, Clooney and Kilfennan; the Riverine project in Strabane; community centre developments at Top of the Hill, Waterside, Glenview, Shantallow, Galliagh, Culmore and Ballymagroarty/Hazelbank; play facilities at Castlederg, St Columb’s Park, Magheramason, Newtownstewart and Sion Mills; and sports pitches at Artigarvan, Leafair/ Corrody Road, Lettershandoney and Ballyfatton along with further extensive development of facilities at Melvin in Strabane.