The local authority approved a 1.9% increase despite another freeze call from the SDLP.
Proposing a new rate of 0.3718 pence per pound for domestic property and 24.4981 for foreign property, Antrim Alliance Cllr Neil Kelly warned that doing so would result in a loss of £ 1.9m.
He said the council should be “realistic” and suggested that “anything other than a 1.9 per cent increase would be ridiculous and irresponsible and could potentially jeopardize jobs and services”.
“I think we’ve reached the best option for ourselves as a council and rate peer. The only option is to add 1.9 per cent, which is an average of 15 pence per week,” he said.
Endorsing the proposal, Sinn Fein Group leader Glengormley Cllr Michael Goodman agreed that the increase was “realistic”, adding: The staff is there. I think it would be wise to set a 1.9% increase in the rate.
Glengormley Councilor, UUP Group Leader, Alderman Mark Cosgrove said: “I think it is a remarkable achievement to work with our officers and members to achieve one of the lowest growth rates in Northern Ireland.”
He noted that the new rate would be significantly lower than inflation.
However, SDLP Group Leader Cllr Roisin Lynch, a representative of Antrim DEA, said: “We feel that the zero rate would be the position that Antrim and Newtownabbey should have taken at a time when our circles are considering this. Whether it’s heating your house or eating. “
Cllr Lynch reported a 22% increase in Antrim Foodbank assistance requests by 4,285 people since 2020, including about 2,000 children.
“The coming months will continue to put financial pressure on all residents. I cannot support an increase in this burden.”
DUP Group Leader Ald Philip Brett said he wanted to “express his frustration” at the ideas put forward by the SDLP.
He said the party had opposed “performance savings” on the rise of the epidemic, which would bring the council £ 1m in revenue. He challenged the SDLP to come up with suggestions on how the services could be continued on the basis of the levels they must have with zero increments.
“We care about our constituencies. That’s why we’ve come up with ideas.
He insisted the proposal was “caring for the most vulnerable”.
UUP Cllr Jim Montgomery commented: “This is a very irresponsible arrangement of public money for anyone to limit revenue without answering how we are going to do it. £ 1m budget cuts. Has a dramatic effect on services and staff.
Cllr Goodman remarked: “I am surprised by the SDLP’s proposal to cut the council’s budget by £ 1m and not offer members an alternative to how to do it.”
Ald Cosgrove stressed that the council “always has to take a prudent financial position”.
Asked about the financial viability of the zero increase, Chief Executive Jackie Dixon said: “It would be difficult to identify how we can really do this without affecting financial stability.” He warned that the authority would have to “identify things that are out of the budget.”
UUP Ald Paul Michael said: “Tonight’s proposal by SDLP is to reduce our services.”
The hike was approved by 35 councilors in favor and three against.
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