Arbory Parish Commissioners – Rate Setting and Merger Updates.

On 24th  of January Manx Radio published a news item regarding Arbory Parish Commissioners rate setting and the forthcoming merger with Rushen Parish Commissioners. It has resulted in contact from parishioners with various concerns and queries. Consequently the commissioners would like to take this
opportunity to give fuller details and dispel some myths,

.Firstly the merger. Arbory and Rushen Parish Commissioners welcome Tynwald’s decision this week to approve the Order which will lead to the two parishes merging later this spring.

The parishes of Arbory and Rushen have existed as legal and ecclesiastical administrative areas for many centuries and while the Order creates one authority, the individual identities of the parishes will not be lost.

The order does though allow for administrative duplication to be removed which during the course of this coming financial year will lead to improved services and increased efficiency.

Secondly the rate setting.

When parishioners were written to and consulted about the merger, the letter sent did indeed refer to rates reductions not rises. But these savings can only be achieved AFTER the merger which will show in next year’s rate setting process.

This year’s rate setting was always done with care and attention to details and in the usual way. The costs of the Commissioners services will rise next year due to various factors outside of the Commissioners’ control, primarily as a result of inflation. This accounts for 2.5p of the increase. The costs for the amenity site alone have gone up by 37%. Arbory Commissioners could have gone for 129p rather than 130p but decided to be prudent and allow 1.25p for unexpected costs and one off merger costs. The remainder 1.25p is equalization of salaries which was agreed as in Arbory we were paying below a fair wage.

Rushen Parish Commissioners were in as slightly different situation in that for the last 5 years 10p was on the rates to raise funds for the Ballakilley Recreational project. Now the 50k has been raised, they have been able to take this off the rates. However, they have had to allow for refuse charges which were previously charged separately.

The authorities expect to generate savings next year once they merge, but until the merger happens, work to bring down costs cannot begin to take effect. The Commissioners only found out on Wednesday afternoon that the merger will definitely go ahead. The Commissioners could have taken a risk with their finances this year in the hope and expectation of future savings, but felt it prudent to budget cautiously to ensure a smooth transition to the merged authority.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing and perhaps the Commissioners should have made it clearer at the consultation meetings that this year’s rate setting would be as normal plus an equalization with Rushen factor.

The vice chair of Arbory Commissioners Jane Glover says ‘we could have been clearer’ about when savings would be made from the merger with Rushen.

Jane Glover admits with hindsight, commissioners should’ve explained that savings from shared administration wouldn’t take affect until after the merger.

She says it’s likely ratepayers will see their bills come down in future years, once the change have taken effect.

It is worth noting that the rate is still considerably lower than some other southern parishes for example Port St Mary which has risen 2.5% from 338p to 346p.

If any rate payer would like to meet someone for a chat, please call Jane Glover on 492010.