The new Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has struck its first ever district rate.
Despite a rise of 1.64% for domestic ratepayers in Lisburn, this will still give the city the lowest rates in Northern Ireland at just over 0.27p in the pound.
The district rate was proposed by the Chairman of Corporate Services, Councillor John Palmer, at a special meeting of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council last week.
Presiding Councillor, Alderman James Tinsley, said: “We are aware of a challenging financial environment, and although inflation is at a relatively low 0.5%, pressures on disposable income continue to be felt by residents and businesses alike. Elected Members have looked to striking the District Rates at a level that will allow for the area’s continued growth and expansion and keeping ratepayers’ needs to the fore.”
Councillor John Palmer added: “As Elected Members of the new Council we are responsible to our new ratepayer base, comprising some 136,800 people; for local government service delivery, in line with the most significant changes to local councils in some 40 years.”
A rates bill is made up of two elements; the District Rate set by councils and the Regional Rate, over which councils have no control and which is set by central government. This covers services such as roads, education and health.
New powers for Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council include enhanced Economic Development, the delivery of a localised Planning Service, Off Street Car Parking, and Community Planning, which will shape local community services in line with need, want and from integrated community consultation with the Council.
The council will also provide environmental, leisure, and corporate services from its headquarters at Lagan Valley Island and facilities throughout the new Council area. Capital development upgrades include refurbishments to Lough Moss Leisure Centre and the new Community Centre in Lisburn North.
A vehicle and machinery replacement programme has been included, as well as a new household recycling centre at Dundonald. The new Council is pledged to maintain high quality recycling services with the aim of continuing improvement. Approximately £3million and 8% of the total budget goes in landfill tax to the Government.
Councillor Palmer also referred to the need for the Lisburn & Castlereagh City area to continue to benefit from investment through infrastructure and for the need to embrace community and environmental regeneration projects.