The new district rates agreed for the 2017/18 year will be an increase of 2.95 per cent on the previous year.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council agreed the new district rate that will apply for the year commencing 1 April 2017 at a Special Council meeting last week. 

The amount to be raised from ratepayers has increased by £883,351. 
An increase in the costs of waste collection and disposal are estimated at £478,457 or 54 per cent of the increase in the amount to be raised by way of the District Rate. This has been impacted by a new legislative requirement requiring separate collection arrangements for food waste which adds significant cost for service provision in a rural area. 

Substantial capital investment and additional annual revenue resources are required to meet this new legislative requirement and it is imperative that the quantity of waste that can be recycled through this investment is maximised. In addition, changes in the market for recyclable material has resulted in significant increases in the cost of disposing of recycled waste.

Employment costs arising from a cost of living increase of 1 per cent that has been agreed for next year, the movement to paying the Living Wage Foundation minimum wage of £8.45 per hour and the apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per cent that applies for the first time next year resulted in an additional cost of £380,000.

Capital expenditure highlights for the coming year include:
-  initial expenditure on the Enniskillen Public Realm scheme (£1m of a £5.2m scheme)
- a commitment to the final stage of the Omagh Riverside walk £700k 
- The Gortin Glen Park development programme £500k, Recycling Centres upgrades £500k and play area provision of £520k. 
- The Capital plans also include provision of £1m for investment in vehicles, plant and equipment.

In agreeing the new district rate consideration was given to the commitments as set out in the Council’s Corporate Plan and the key outcomes as set out in the soon to be published Community Plan.
Each year, the Council estimates income and expenditure for the next financial year and based on these estimates, sets a district rate for that financial year. 

The money raised from the district rates enables the Council to deliver services in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area during the year. The total amount paid by ratepayers also includes the regional rate which is set by Central Government. As a result, the percentage of the total rates paid by domestic ratepayers that goes to the Council is 45 per cent. In relation to non-domestic ratepayers the percentage of the total rates paid that goes to the Council is 38 per cent.

Total rate impacts are not uniform across the Council area. Following the implementation of Local Government reform in 2015 ratepayers in Fermanagh qualified for a transitional relief agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive for the purpose of phasing in the impact of rate convergence. This relief is phased out over a four year period and will impact on total rates paid in the Fermanagh area in 2017/18 and 2018/19. The phasing out of the transitional relief will add a further 1.3 per cent to the total rates payable by domestic ratepayers in Fermanagh. The equivalent impact on non-domestic ratepayers in Fermanagh is 0.7per cent.

The increase in the total rates payable by ratepayers is impacted by three main factors
-The District Rate set by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
-The Regional Rate set by Central Government
- The phasing out of transitional relief for those ratepayers who qualified for it.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has responsibility for the District Rate element of total rate bills only.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council receives substantial funding from Central Government. In the absence of an agreed budget for Central Government for next year the Council has had to strike its district rate making assumptions in relation to the level of Central Government support that may be available. In the absence of an agreed Central Government budget and a confirmed regional rate for next year the Council is not in a position to inform ratepayers of the impact on total rate bills for next year.

At this stage the Council can only confirm that the district rate set by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will increase by 2.95 per cent.
Meanwhile, Mid Ulster District Council has held its rate rise to 1.46 per cent.

The decision means a ratepayer in a property with an average capital value will pay £5.63 more each year to fund local services.
The Council agreed its new rate at a meeting earlier this week, where emphasis was placed on minimising the impact on ratepayers, while continuing to deliver quality services and planning for future investment in, and improvements to, services and facilities.