I propose to take Questions Nos. 457, 458 and 461 together.
The Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government, Putting People First, indicates that in the context of reorganisation of local governance structures, the proposed new municipal districts will provide an opportunity to achieve a more coherent approach to rates and charges on a county-wide basis, having regard to funding requirements and the need to support employment and business competitiveness.
The Action Programme proposes rates harmonisation to cater for differences between Annual Rates on Valuation (ARVs) of towns and counties. My approach to rates harmonisation will seek to ensure, on the one hand, that harmonisation does not lead to significant net loss of revenue in individual counties with consequential implications for services, and on the other hand, that increases in rates do not impact negatively on businesses and employment.
Definitive details, arrangements and procedures in relation to the funding of district level functions, and financial relations between district and county levels, will be developed in the context of the new local government funding arrangements generally, implementation of the new sub-county system and preparation of the legislation in relation to the reform programme.