Friday, 22 November 2013

Managing the merger

“While ratepayers will be aware of the careful management of ratepayers funds by Antrim Council over the years they will be shocked at some of the practices currently in place in Newtownabbey. For example the Mayor of Newtownabbey is transported to events in the Mayoral car an extravagance which a conservative estimate suggests costs the combined local government rates of 150 households. Ratepayers in Newtownabbey may have been happy with this state of affairs over the years but it is clear in this time of austerity and declining household incomes the Newtownabbey system of local administration needs to change. A major issue going forward will be the massive indebtedness that Newtownabbey will bring to the table as the most indebted council in Northern Ireland. With an annual rates income of £24 million Newtownabbey has a debt of some £47 million pounds based on figures from the Department of the Environment. Antrim in contrast has a capital debt of some £20 million with an annual income of £18 million. While the interest rates obtained may be generous a general principle that the debt burden should not exceed the annual income is a sensible position to take. The new Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has much work to do to achieve a balanced position at the same time as maintaining high levels of service provision. With that in mind the little extras such as the Mayoral car will need to be set aside for the benefit of ratepayers both domestic and business.”

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