Members of Derry City Council met today and agreed a 2.2% increase in the annual rates, the lowest rate ever recorded for the city.
The chairperson of the Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Gerard Diver said in real terms the increase represented a £0.34 pence increase per week to the average residential ratepayer. He said that Council, when setting the rate, acknowledged the exceptional opportunities that exist as the city and region prepares for 2013 and beyond.
Speaking after the rates agreement he said: “The 2.2% increase realises the immediate opportunity to invest and support a series of projects that will transform the physical fabric of the city and bring about positive change for business, tourism and community wellbeing.
“We already have an extensive capital investment programme of £65m underway with projects such as the Guildhall, North West Regional Sports Campus and Brooke Park Restoration. And while the increase will add a further £5.2m of capital expenditure towards delivering additional Council projects, collectively the city will have realised over £100m of capital investment towards the delivery of the regeneration of the city though the One Plan”.
“The Council will continue to lead in supporting the City of Culture with its investment assisting to lever a potential budget of £21m of direct investment to realise the 2013 year. Council’s contribution of £3.8m to the Culture Company has already been committed from the Capital Fund along with lead-up events such as Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 11-12. We’ve also enabled the establishment of a Business Development Programme to support the City of Culture year that provides £1m of initiatives in this sector. The funding unit remains a priority and will again assist with increasing the opportunity for further partnership money for the city”.
Within its controllable expenditure, Derry City Council say they have been able to achieve £437,400 of savings while managing statutory and regulatory increases in landfill tax, annual pay, employer’s pension contributions and inflationary increases associated with utility costs such as oil and electricity, and running costs for recently completed new facilities.
Cllr Diver continued: “We have tried to freeze expenditure in as many areas of possible including the waste management budget being held the same as previous years. The continued decrease in the subvention for the City of Derry Airport (CODA), by £109,600, shows the successful partnership in managing this arrangement and this is a positive development for an important regional asset”.
Moving forward, Mayor Alderman Maurice Devenney said there is a real energy in creating opportunities and realising the full potential of 2012 and 2013.
“The Council acknowledges that this is a challenging time for all organisations and elected members have worked collectively with Council officials to ensure a rates increase that will help us maintain and improve local and regional services and maximise the opportunity presented by 2012 events and initiatives including the Olympic Flame and Clipper 11-12”.
Members were also advised that both the domestic regional and non-domestic regional rate for 2012-13 is expected to increase by 2.2% while the latest inflation rate is 4.2%.