CRAIGAVON Borough Council has struck a new rates rise of a 1.59 per cent – the lowest increase in 16 years!
But SDLP Councillor Joe Nelson has called for a zero rise next year, citing the cost of “inefficient business processes, the council’s grievance culture, absenteeism and the spiralling costs of legal advice” as reasons why the council failed to deliver it this time round.
Mr Nelson’s proposal during the ‘in committee’ session was supported all round.
He said: ”I proposed that we should set ourselves a challenge to set an aspirational increase of a zero rise for year 2013-14, even though we will start to feel the impact on rates of major projects like the new leisure centre and the costs of merging with Armagh and Banbridge Councils under the Review of Public Administration (RPA).
“Setting this aspirational target will allow us to focus on how efficiently our organisation is designed to deliver services to the ratepayer in the 21st Century. I was elected to ensure that we deliver the best quality services at the most efficient cost to our ratepayers, and I don’t believe we are achieving that.”
The rise was confirmed from the Civic Centre, with a statement that the council’s increase – when added to the regional rate from Stormont – meant that the overall impact was 2.2 per cent.
A spokesperson said: “The increase equates to a rise of £1.25 per month – or 29p per week – for the average domestic ratepayer, and £16.40 per month – or £3.78 per week – for the average non-domestic ratepayer.
“The council has worked to manage budgets and generate efficiencies to free up money to pay for additional investment, while committed to keeping the district rate below inflation, which is currently 2.7 per cent.
“This rate will allow the council to deliver significant additional investment, like capital investment of £30m over the next three years to help build assets, including a new leisure centre and renovation to Kernan Cemetery.”