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19/10/2021

Council strike zero rate after knife-edge vote

Mid Ulster District Council have voted for a 0% rates increase by the narrowest of margins.

Council strike zero rate after knife-edge vote

Mid Ulster District Council have agreed their rate increase for the 2021/22 financial year at a dramatic Special Council meeting this evening.

A rate of 1.59% had been proposed for approval by council officials, but a proposal from Cllr Meta Graham to strike a rate of 0% for the year prevailed in a vote by 17 votes to 16 after the SDLP bloc on the council abstained.

Independent councillors Dan Kerr and Barry Monteith both spoke in favour of a 0% increase during the debate on the issue, and in the end their votes proved decisive.

A council finance official had warned during the meeting that a 0% increase for 2021/22 could lead to a 5.83% increase next year if a number of financial pressure projections are brought to bear.

Proposals for a 0% increase centred around the council's current healthy financial position and recent windfall.

An increase of 1.59% would have meant a 68p per month increase on ratepayers' bills, or an annual increase of £6.75.

DUP leader on the council, Cllr Paul McLean, said the rates freeze was a ‘one-off’. 

“The DUP group, under Cllr Kim Ashton’s direction, clearly set out how this could be achieved and therefore believe that for a one-year period the rates increase should be zeroed,” he said.

”Our duty as elected councillors is to cater for everyone in society and therefore as a ‘one off’ we proposed on this occasion not to increase the rates within Mid Ulster District Council.

”We believe this is the right position to adopt on this occasion.”

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