The Castletown Town Commissioners announce a 9% increase (32p) in the Town Rate and an 8.9% rise in the refuse rate. (388p / £220)
Waste management charges continue to escalate. Whilst our contractors increases are linked to CPI, gate fee charges at the Energy From Waste plant are set to rise by 8.08% on April 1, 2024 with domestic waste being charged at £113.00 per tonne and commercial waste charged at £224.96 per tonne. Castletown’s contributions to the Southern Civic Amenity Site are increasing by 10.16%.
In recent years, the Commissioners have sought to support local business by not charging any fees for the collection of commercial refuse and only re-charging for the weight collected, however given increasing levels of long-term commercial refuse debtors, our commercial waste disposal offering will be reviewed.
The increase in rates over inflation will cover increased staffing requirements at weekends and events, along with the need to provide for for likely public sector pay awards and the increased interest burden from historic capital schemes.
For the upcoming financial year, we do not plan significant rate-borne capital projects. However, funds have also been earmarked for the design work of a phased improvement plan for Poulsom Park and its immediate surrounds.
Additionally, design work and planning approvals will be sought to modernise all of the towns aging street lighting infrastructure by a target date of 2030. It is anticipated a pilot scheme may take place on Douglas Street, with the initial wider phase being incorporated to the DOI’s refurbishment of Arbory Street and Malew Street.
A limited hours tourist information function will be trialled within the Town Hall to support general queries and increased seasonal visitor traffic. Plans for a changing places compliant facility are ongoing and amendments at the Town Hall will ensure functional public toilets outside regular hours. The Town Hall itself is in need of significant capital investment to replace windows, doors and roofline components but at this time no commitment has been made for these works.
We are pleased to note that the DOI has agreed in principle to the proposed long-term leases on the Tennis Courts and Bowling Greens, pending petition approval and a long term lease on the Tennis Courts is due to be advertised imminently. This provides certainty to club members and income to the town’s ratepayers and we hope that similar agreement will be reached with the Bowling Club.
Recognising the concerns of our residents who face financial challenges, the decision for the above-inflation rate increase was only made after careful deliberation. The Town’s general revenue reserves are not at a level that provide sufficient comfort to draw upon to mitigate rate increases while maintaining services. As a collective Board, we recognise our duty to ensure the town maintains a robust fiscal position as we prepare to hand the baton to the next administration. As we await planning determinations for our works yard and old fire station, we focus on preparing our own works operations for a probable relocation in the near future.
Recent discussions regarding the Southern Swimming Pool and disparities in funding around the island highlight the need for a more equitable rates system. This Board is actively seeking a more collaborative approach beyond our town boundaries to provide services at a lower cost to benefit not only our ratepayers but also those of neighbouring authorities.
We are pleased to continue offering community services that serve the wider area, including our Library, Registrar Services, Commissioners for Oaths services, and providing space to support central government Departments, most notably the regional delivery of Manx Care vaccination programs, but are conscious that the financial burden in providing these services ultimately rests with our ratepayers.
Chairman of Castletown Town Commissioners Jamie Horton commented;
“From speaking to my counterparts, Local authorities across the Island continue to face an unprecedented challenge to their financial sustainability.
A comprehensive, long-term plan is urgently needed to ensure adequate funding for essential local services, both in the immediate future and for years to come. We cannot continue to burden our own ratepayers to provide services to others.
As a board, we are exploring collaborative options with other authorities. I would urge our national politicians to address rate reform and ensure that all the island residents contribute to services in a more equitable manner.”