Ratepayers across Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon borough will be hit with a 5.17% increase from April.
ABC Council has unanimously agreed the hike tonight (Thursday) for the incoming financial year (2024-25).
This represents an additional 57 pence per week in the average domestic rates bill (or £2.28 per month) and reflects the new budget set for 2024-25, to operate and maintain vital public services and deliver a significant capital investment programme across the borough.
For an average sized business within the borough the increase is approximately £25 per month (or £300 per year).
The increase takes into account external financial challenges and cost pressures associated with the rate of inflation, the significant rise in energy costs and staffing costs following the national pay increase.
To mitigate against rising costs, council has set a savings plan of £1.27m through a critical budget review and agreed efficiencies programme.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Margaret Tinsley said: “The council has carefully and rigorously agreed a rate that balances priorities despite external financial challenges and ensures vital public services are delivered while further investment in our communities, towns and villages continue.”
“The agreed budget will continue to drive economic growth, deliver on a programme of capital investment and keep the burden on our ratepayers to an absolute minimum.”
The rate set is used to finance local public services including refuse collections, recycling, leisure, tourism, and community facilities, as well as other key planning and building control services, and an annual events programme to support the local economy and boost civic pride.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Sorcha McGeown said: “Significant work has been undertaken through the efficiencies programme to minimise the impact on our residents and businesses.
“Those saving measures are already in place and I want to thank all members and officers for their diligence in setting the lowest possible rate.”
Key investment projects underway include a £6 million public realm scheme in Banbridge Town Centre with a further £3.2 million to expand the FE McWilliam Gallery. Heritage-led regeneration projects in Armagh (£6.2m) and Lurgan (£6.6m) will provide a major enhancement, bringing buildings back into sustainable use, along with £4 million planned for rural areas to enhance villages and small settlements.
Continued investment for health and wellbeing facilities remains a priority, council says, including the delivery of the play park strategy, upgrading pitches, and maintaining high quality services across all centres.
Rates bills are made up of two parts – the local district rate which pays for council services and the regional rate which pays for services provided by central government. The regional rate has yet to be agreed.