Rates for most authorities remain frozen

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Manx money

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Rates for many local authorities are unchanged for 2016-17 with others setting only a modest increase.

Most authorities have reported a struggle balancing the books after taking on responsibility for services such as street cleaning, formerly provided by central government. But a freeze in the waste disposal charges at the incinerator has helped many to avoid an increase in charges.

Douglas rates for this financial year have been set at 402 pence in the pound, freezing it at the same level as last year.

The rate was approved by all councillors except Councillor Stephen Pitts who voted against the motion to register his objection to discontinuing the horse tram service.

Council leader David Christian said growing pressure on the council budget meant it had been an achievement to freeze it at last year’s level, despite rising waste disposal charges set by government and extra services, being devolved onto local authorities.

Speaking about the horse tram service, which councillors voted to axe at a special meeting the day before on January 26, Councillor Christian said the service was currently running at an annual loss of £263,000. If a proposed new transport hub at Strathallan had gone ahead, he said loan charges to finance it would have cost the council £420,000 per year.

‘To continue operating the horse tram service, the council would have been failing in its duty to deliver a sustainable economic future for Douglas,’ he said.

Councillor Christian said the council would be taking on five apprentices this year in trades such as joinery, electrical work, plumbing and gardening.

Councillors heard the relocated Douglas library would save around £100,000 a year in rent, though it will still cost the council £650,000 a year to run.

Other projects in the pipeline were CCTV for Noble’s Park and Pulrose shops. Replacement of the borough’s 4,000 street lights with LED ones should save £157,000 per year in electricity charges.

Braddan rates go down for the coming financial year by 10 pence to £2.05. This was put down to extra income from new properties in the area, as well as reduced administration costs. The price of waste disposal and recycling had also not increased.

The rate for Onchan is £3.10 in the pound, an increase of three pence (0.98 per cent) on last year. The commissioners’ member for fianace and general purposes, John Quaye, said the authority took on extra responsibilities over the past year, such as street sweeping, weed spraying, hedge trimming and gully emptying, previously done by the Department of Infrastructure, This was balanced by there being no increase in waste disposal charges, he said. The rates increase equates to an average of £4.50 per year per household. Mr Quaye said a projected £18,000 surplus this year would help with projects such as refurbishing the youth and community centre.

Port Erin rates remain unchanged in the next financial year at 288 pence in the pound, and neighbouring Port St Mary commissioners have also announced its rates will stay the same as last year at 306 pence in the pound.

Heading further north, Ramsey’s rates for 2016-17 have been held at 348 pence in the pound for the fourth consecutive year.

Rates payers in Rushen will be paying 85 pence in the pound but in addition, there will be a £63 charge per household to cover costs of refuse collection and disposal. (Last year’s rate for Rushen was 79 pence plus a £59 charge for rubbish.) Lonan is charging 89 pence plus an £147 waste disposal charge and German parish commissioners have set a rate of 82 pence plus a refuse charge of 51 pence in the pound along with £100 per household.

Castletown rates remain the same at 320 pence in the pound, Maughold is unchanged at 96 pence plus a £111.09 refuse charge.

Laxey is unchanged at 174 pence with a fixed refuse charge of £163; Arbory rises from 113 to 115 pence in the pound.

Peel today announced an increase in its rates to 257 pence in the pound, while the annual refuse charge will remain the same at £170.

Michael is yet to announce its rates.

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