Rate bills now being issued in Ballymena

RATE bills are being delivered to homes and businesses throughout the Ballymena Borough Council area this week.

Each bill, being issued by Land & Property Services (LPS), the Government Agency responsible for collecting rates, shows the amount owed for the billing period 2011/12 as well as any debt carried forward from previous years.

A LPS spokesperson said: “There are 21,493 ratepayers in Ballymena Borough Council area and through the payment of their rates they have helped to fund the provision of a number of public services.

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“In fact, since 2007/08 alone, over £143 million has been collected in the Ballymena area. “This money has been invested in vital public services such as healthcare, education and roads as well as helping to fund a number of council services including recreational facilities, bin collection, tourism and local events.”

As well as continuing to prioritise frontline services, such as bin collection, Ballymena Borough Council has identified a number of projects that will benefit from rates funding. Mayor, Cllr Maurice Mills, says: “Investment in facilities and services for ratepayers include: Provision of a new Pavilion, Pitch, Floodlit Training Area (Synthetic Surface) at Clough, Additional Waste Recycling Service for the Borough,Commencement of a new Enabling Scheme to provide assistance to Community led projects and Major investment in Wakehurst Playing Fields.”

LPS is encouraging ratepayers to read the information booklet they will have received with their bill, the spokesperson said: “We would encourage everyone to read this carefully as it contains information about how your bill is calculated, methods of payment, and how you can get help with paying their rates”.

A four per cent discount is available to all Northern Ireland domestic ratepayers if they pay their rate bill in full by May 6.

The LPS spokesperson continued: “If LPS receives payment in full, in a single payment by the discount day, which this year is May 6. you will receive a 4% discount. You must allow a minimum of five working days for payment to reach us bearing in mind that there are a number of bank holidays around this time and these are not classified as working days.

“You can also pay by direct debit. This is the easiest method of payment and can help you to spread the cost of your rate bill. LPS offers ratepayers a choice of three collection dates; 7th of the month; 15th of the month; or 28th of the month.

“A number of other payment options are available including; standing order, telephone and internet banking, cheque, online and using a ‘Rates QuickPay Card’ which customers bring along to any Post Office or one of the 800 participating payzone outlets.”

There are also a range of reliefs and entitlements available to help ratepayers pay both domestic and business rate bills.

The LPS spokesperson concluded: “If you are having trouble paying your rate bill we would encourage you to make contact with us to see if you are entitled to any of the rate reliefs available or to enter into a payment agreement with us.”

LPS has teamed up with nidirect to hold a one hour online session on Thursday, April 21, to answer any questions you might have about your bill. This will be held on www.nidirect.gov.uk.

You should send your questions to [email protected] before Wednesday, April 20, (1pm). An LPS official will post responses on nidirect on April 21 at 2.30pm.