As Fermanagh and Omagh District Council currently prepare to strike the District Rate for 2023-2024 on Thursday, February 9, it will be interesting to see how the impact of the cost of living crisis will be taken into consideration when the councillors meet to make their decision.

At the Special Council Meeting, councillors will decide on and approve the budgets, including expenditure for the 2022-2023 financial year which will determine the District Rate for businesses and residents.

Rates are a property tax paid on domestic and non-domestic (business) properties, based on the value of the property, which is determined by Land and Property Services.

The rates consist of a regional rate which is set by the Northern Ireland Executive and a District Rate, which is set by the Council.

Of the total rates bill, approximately 58 per cent is paid to the Northern Ireland Executive to support the provision of frontline public services by Central Government, including roads infrastructure, education, health and law and order.

A Council spokesperson said: “The Council receives the remaining 42 per cent of the rates, which makes a vital contribution to the delivery of key local services and to enable continued investment in the district.”

Continuing by outlining how funding raised through the rates in the current financial year (2022-2023) has enabled the Council to deliver a range of service for residents and visitors to the district, the Council spokesperson added: “As part of its wide provision of services this year, the Council has [enacted the following]:

• Convened 58 committee meetings, at which councillors make decisions on the direction of the Council, including work priorities and expenditure to deliver services which meet the needs of residents and businesses;

• Approved a £250,000 Cost of Living suite of initiatives to support those most in need in our district, which are currently being implemented;

• Provided £315,000 in grant aid to 487 groups;

• Given direct support to 487 urban and rural businesses;

• Collected bins from 45,715 households across the district;

• Spent £1.6 million on street cleansing to ensure the district is clean and welcoming, with Enniskillen and Omagh winning national awards;

• Upgraded eight play parks as part of the Council’s Play Park Strategy;

• Delivered 27 summer schemes, with 833 participants, and funded a further 23 schemes in towns and villages across the district;

• Processed 770 planning applications;

• Inspected 506 food premises in the district; and

• Delivered 13 activity programmes to promote access and inclusion across the district, with 730 people with disabilities participating in these.

“The Council, like other businesses and households, has and continues to face soaring utility costs and increases in the costs of doing business.

“Work has been ongoing with councillors and officers for a number of months to review the Council’s budgets and to identify priorities for expenditure to enable the Council to continue to provide its statutory services,” said the Council spokesperson.

The Special Council Meeting at which the District Rate will be agreed by the councillors is scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 9 at 7pm, and will be available to view on the Council’s YouTube channel.