A SPECIAL meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will take place virtually tonight (Thursday, February 18) at 7pm to agree a Council budget and to strike the District Rate for the Fermanagh and Omagh district for 2021-2022.

The meeting will be live-streamed and is open to the public via the Council’s YouTube channel.

The District Rate is set by the Council annually to fund local Council services and investment in infrastructure to improve the wellbeing of the Council district, its residents and ratepayers.

Like many other organisations, the Council has experienced a significant reduction in its income in 2020-2021 with the closure or reduction in capacity of a number of its income-generating services, in line with Covid-19 restrictions and public health guidance.

Costs to deliver other services, such as waste and recycling, have also increased due to additional demands and the implementation of Covid-secure service delivery arrangements.

The Council has continued to work to support local communities and local businesses to respond to the impacts of Covid-19 through the provision of financial and practical assistance and to support the recovery of the district.

Throughout the pandemic, the Council has followed Government and public health advice and guidance at all times with the safety of its staff and members of the public paramount.

This provides a challenging financial environment as context to the Estimates process for the 2021/22 year.

To offset the loss of income and increase in costs, the Council has pursued and secured a range of funding from external sources, including central government support, and made efficiency savings across a number of its service areas.

The Council will seek to make prudent use of financial reserves available to support continued delivery of key services and projects in 2021-2022 at an affordable level to minimise the impact of the upcoming District Rate on ratepayers within the current challenging financial climate.

The draft budget has been developed following extensive financial planning by Council members and officers with all relevant factors taken into consideration.

This will help ensure that adequate financial resources are available to meet Council priorities linked to the Fermanagh and Omagh Community Plan 2030, and the Council’s Corporate Plan 2020-2024, and will be presented for consideration at the meeting tonight.