Armagh council rates rise by 1.7 per cent

ARMAGH City and District Council - which includes Tandragee, Richhill, Markethill and Loughgall - has announced a district rates rise of 1.7 per cent.

A statement from the council said that, when added to the regional rates rise of 2.7 per cent, the increase equates to an extra 38p per household in the area, which stretches from Derryhale near Portadown to Keady in South Armagh.

Armagh’s chief executive John Briggs pointed out that the projected increased costs of running the council in the 2013-14 financial year would go up by three per cent, “but we are satisfied that the correct balance of efficiencies and savings have been found against investment and development of the city and district”.

Mr Briggs added, “Our ratepayers know we empty the bins, keep the streets clean, operate the leisure and community centres and maintain parks and cemeteries. But what they may not see is the benefit of the business side of the council. We buy goods and services, pay rates and utilities like other businesses, and are a major employer in the Armagh district, putting more than £8.5m back into the local economy through salaries.

“The council also promotes and markets the city and its towns and villages to attract visitors. But more importantly perhaps, we work with the community to develop facilities which not only enrich lives but also act as a catalyst attracting more business.”

The Armagh increase is slightly above the 1.59 per cent rise announced last week by Craigavon Borough Council. And along with Banbridge District Council, they will unite in 2015 to form the ABC (Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon) District Council, with Northern Ireland’s 26 local authorities being shaved down from 26 to 11.