DERRY City and Strabane District Council has defended Northern Ireland’s steepest hike in district rates.
On April 1, the council increased rates by 3.46%, the biggest annual increase across all 11 councils.
Rates in the North of Ireland pay for public services and projects; bills are calculated on property value.
Derry and Strabane Council said the hike ensured the district’s “continued social, economic and environmental improvement”.
Some ratepayers say the rise is unjustified.
Paul Howie, who lives in Derry’s Waterside, said his annual rates bill had risen significantly in recent years.
He told BBC News NI: “”There may well be others who feel they are getting their money’s worth, but it doesn’t seem that way for me,” Mr Howie told BBC news NI.
“Now that one of my sons has gone off to university, I don’t even leave my bin out once a week anymore.
“The council is great at putting on the big events and marketing the city has become so much better since the 2013 City of Culture year, but in a town with such high unemployment and such low disposable income, the level of the rise is pretty hard to take.”A Derry and Strabane District council spokeswoman said the council had “already embarked on a portfolio of projects that are transforming local communities and additional rates investment will provide the necessary resources and capital match funding required to continue this drive for positive growth”.
She said priorities for the year ahead included:
Greenway projects in the city
Wider greenway schemes linking Derry and Strabane to Donegal in the Republic of Ireland
Seven community centre projects earmarked for areas of Derry
Play and sports facilities across the district
Strabane’s Riverine project
Progressing Derry’s city deal proposal
Derry City and Strabane Council also subsidises an airport.
The council not only does that council have the highest rate, but rates bills have increased by more than any other.