Lisburn’s rates up by 1.97%

LISBURN’s rates are going up by 1.97%, it was decided this week.

The Council has struck its District Rate for the financial year 2013/2014 at 20.1716 pence in the pound for non-domestic properties, an increase of 0.3891 pence or 1.97% and a rate of 0.2643 pence in the pound for domestic properties, an increase of 0.0051 pence or 1.97%

The Chairman of Lisburn City Council’s Corporate Services Committee, Councillor Stephen Martin, proposed the District Rate to elected Members at the Special Meeting of Council on Monday.

Mr Martin said: “We are all acutely aware of the financial difficulties faced by many residents and businesses as part of the ongoing global economic situation.

“It is against this backdrop that we have set the district rate well below the current level of inflation, determined to mitigate any unnecessary additional burden that the district rate will place on our residents.”

He continued: “Existing departmental budgets have been frozen at current year levels, with the exceptions of a small number of items which have unavoidably increased, such as meeting the waste disposal legislative requirements and required new funding for the out workings from the Review of Public Administration.”

Mr Martin said that even within this difficult economic climate, the Council “remains determined to ensure that investment in our City continues”. He said this includes the final phase of the refurbishment of Wallace Park, at a cost of £3.5million; improvement works at Aberdelghy Golf Course; new synthetic playing fields at Rathvarna and Brook Playing Fields and replacement sports pavilions at Moira Demesne and Drumbo Playing Fields.

“The Council is also partnering with the Department for Social Development to part fund the City Centre’s Masterplan Public Realm Strategy at a total cost of nearly £5million which is expected to be completed in 2014,” said Councillor Martin.

It is also planning major refurbishment work at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex and Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum as well as the regeneration of seven rural play areas.

“In these extremely difficult times, it is important that we continue to invest in the infrastructure of our City and to demonstrate leadership and confidence in the future of Lisburn. Through careful housekeeping, effective service provision and a commitment to investment we will continue to serve the best interests of the ratepayers of this City,” said Mr Martin.

Speaking after the meeting the Mayor, Alderman William Leathem, said that he was pleased that the Council had once again achieved a minimal increase in the City’s district rates.

“Acutely aware of the economic hardships that are faced by many, we have once again managed to strike a district rate that is below the level of inflation, while at the same time ensuring that our public services and investment in our City and its facilities remain our priority. I would like to thank all those involved, both Councillors and Officers for working hard to ensure as low an increase as possible and would like to assure residents that we remain committed to providing cost effective, quality services,” he commented.

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Councillor Ronnie Crawford said he was sure ratepayers would be relieved that the previous year’s rate would not be repeated.

“Whilst ratepayers will be relieved that last year’s inflation-bursting increase of 4% is not to be repeated, the fact is that they could be enjoying a vastly reduced rates if it had not been for the actions of the Stormont Executive in delaying the John Lewis store at Sprucefield, cancelling plans for an international stadium at the Maze and waiting ten years before setting up the corporation to develop the Maze site.

“What is clear is that our elected representatives have little power to influence decisions of the Executive and have become more like spectators to the decisions taken by the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition.”