Derry rates to be struck today

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Elisha McCallion. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 01.04.15
Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Elisha McCallion. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 01.04.15

Derry City & Strabane District Council is expected to strike the rates for the coming year later today.

A special meeting has been arranged for this afternoon to afford councillors the opportunity to agree the annual fees for local home owners and businesses for the year ahead.

Mayor of Derry. Colr. Elisha McCallion will address the meeting, which is due to take place at 3pm in the Guildhall.

This will be the second set of rates struck by the new supercouncil as it enters its second year.

Last year, ratepayers in Derry saw an increase in their rates bills of 1.29% while in Strabane the increase was 5.23%.

The rates bill has two parts – the regional rate and the district rate.

The regional rate is struck by central government and provides funding for matters such as education, housing, health and roads.

The local Council, meanwhile, sets the district rate and this provides funding for arts, events and recreation, as well as building control, leisure and community centres, environmental health, tourism and waste management.

While the rates rose last year, the average ratepayer in Derry & Strabane was still paying lower rates bills than average ratepayers in the majority of other Council areas.

In monetary terms, the rate last year represented an increase of £10.28 for the average Derry household and £37.46 for the average Strabane ratepayer.

While cuts to central government funding accounted for much of this increase, the then new Council last year also announced investment in a number of initiatives.

Presiding over the meeting last year, Sinn Fein Councillor Maoliosa McHugh said: “The new Council is focused on making provision for growth and our strategy, in spite of these wider austerity measures being introduced by Central Government, is on building for the future.

“At the centre of this strategy is economic, social and environmental regeneration, with specific emphasis this year on making additional provision to fund an ambitious capital investment programme across the entire new Council area.”

Neighbouring local authority, Causeway, Coast and Glens Borough Council, have already struck the rate for their new District.

The agreed domestic rate, according to a Council spokesperson, is a freeze in the district rate for Council when compared to last year.