'Arrogant' Rates Bill
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
A LEADING Newry businessman has described Newry and Mourne Council as "arrogant" after it was confirmed that the cost of rates will increase.
Hill Street trader Declan McChesney said:"It is absolute folly on the part of the council to impose any increase in rates."
“I know that in numerical terms it's a relatively small rise but it's more money drained from an already dry river.
“This is arrogance, as always, from the council and I must say I'm absolutely appalled that they seem to have no understanding of business," added Mr McChesney, who owns Cahill Brothers on Hill Street.
However the decision to increase the cost of rates was "appropriate and realistic" according to Mayor John McArdle who congratulated councillors and council officials on agreeing to a 1.3 per cent increase in rates for 2013/2014 last night.
“I am pleased that Newry and Mourne District Council have continuously achieved their objective of striking a rate which is appropriate and realistic," he said.
The increase was agreed at yesterday's council meeting and will put an additional 42 pence on the average weekly bill.
A council spokeswoman said the increase was the only way to ensure that the council could continue to deliver on a number of key regeneration schemes in the area.
“At the Council meeting on Monday, February 11 Newry and Mourne District Council struck its rate to meet the cost of services it provides," she said.
“They agreed to a 1.3 per cent increase in the district rate. This means households face an increase of 2.0 per cent in their overall rates bill (assuming Regional Rate increases by 2.7 per cent) - an average of 42 pence per week or £21.77 per annum on a property with a capital rate value of £100,000.
“During 2012/13 year the Council continued to deliver a programme of capital developments throughout the district.
“These included a number of schemes such as the completion of Phase I of the Regeneration Public Realm Scheme at Hill Street and Monaghan Street and commencement of a new £9m swimming pool at Rooney's Meadow.
“In addition to its existing programme of events the Council will facilitate the World Police and Fire Games in Kilbroney Park and assist with the promotion and organisation of the International Currach Championships at Warrenpoint Foreshore in August.
“The Council will continue to fund community initiatives through its voluntary contribution scheme.
“The gross budget of £1,229,402, which includes economic development, covers a diverse range of schemes and project and acts as a catalyst to lever substantial funds for community sectors.
“The breakdown of the Council rates is available on the Council website www.newryandmourne.gov.uk."
Sinn Fein group leader Mickey Ruane said that while the rates increase was not ideal it was the best that could have been realistically hoped for.
“Our aim was to achieve a 0 per cent increase in rates without affecting the services we provide to the general public," he said.
“By the end of the process we were on our sixth draft.
“Our rate for the year ahead will be an increase of 1.3 per cent. This was the lowest figure we could achieve without affecting essential services that the council provides to members of the public
“The council are involved in a number of major projects such as the new sports centre and the Kilbroney park mountain bike trails.
“The new sports centre will be the biggest project the council has ever undertaken and is a project that all councillors have committed too.
“Both Newry and Mourne councillors and officials need to be commended for being able to strike the rate as low as it is for this year, given the major projects that are due to start."
However, not everyone is in agreement.
In a further rejection of Mayor John McArdle's assertion Hill Street businessman Declan McChesney described the rise as "inappropriate and unrealistic."
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