The Mayor proceeded to address Members on the annual striking of rate for the 2018/19 financial year.
He thanked Members and Officers for their work within this challenging rates process and proposed that Derry City and Strabane District Council make and fix a District Rate of 30.0353p in the £ for Non-Domestic properties and of 0.4683p for Domestic properties for the year ending on 31 March 2019.
He stated that this District Rate increase of 2.99% was less than the current rate of inflation and that the current District Rates bill of £437.97 would increase by £13.10 per annum or 25p per week. He also stated that as property valuations in the District were lower than in other Council areas, the average ratepayer in the Derry City and Strabane District Council Area would continue to pay lower rates than that paid in the majority of other Council Areas.
He highlighted the positive messages within this year’s rate process, in particular the growth and provision of new and enhanced services across the Council area.
He stated that 0.96% of the new rate increase will be invested in the capital programme adding to the £34.4m of projects which have been completed to date by the new Council and a further £63.1m of projects which are in progress and fully funded. He commented on the benefit this investment would bring to achieving the job and skills element of the Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan.
The Mayor expressed his delight to see the positive impact that the investment in growth has made, with rate-base growth well above the Northern Ireland average and the significant contribution this has made to the fall in unemployment numbers across the District.
He also expressed his pleasure in seeing the continued efforts to drive new efficiencies in Council, with a further £244k identified in this year’s budget process bringing total efficiencies realised since amalgamation to almost £2.3m. He indicated that these have given rise to investments in the capital plan, community services provision, festivals and events and cultural venues which have all contributed significantly to the achievement of positive growth indicators.
However, he also expressed his disappointment in noting the pressure now placed on Councils, particularly the impact that cuts in the Rates Support Grant and Community Services has placed on the most deprived Councils. He highlighted the direct district rates impact of 0.76% which he found concerning and emphasised the need to oppose these cuts.
The Mayor congratulated all involved on delivering a rates proposal below the rate of inflation which despite the challenges they faced remain focused on growth. He also praised Officers on the completion of the Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan and the case for a City Growth Deal which will secure necessary Central Government investment for an opportunity to make the City thriving, prosperous and sustainable.
In conclusion the Mayor recommended that Derry City and Strabane. District Council make and fix a District rate of 30.0353p in the £ for non- domestic properties and of 0.4683p in the £ for domestic properties for the year ending March 2019.