Rates hike on the way

Thursday, 9 February 2017

HOUSEHOLDERS and businesses in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area look likely to have to absorb an increase in their rates bill for the coming year.

A recommendation that there should be a 2.95 per cent increase in rates for domestic and non-domestic ratepayers in the council area will be put before councillors this afternoon (Wednesday) at a special meeting of the council.

However the president of the Omagh Chamber of Commerce, Nicholas O'Shiel, warned that any increase would place difficulties on an already hard pressed local business sector.

The special council meeting, which is scheduled for 5pm at the council offices in Omagh, is to consider the council rates for 2017-18.

In a report which is already in the public domain via the council's website, the head of finance, Catherine Leonard, reveals that the estimates for 2017-18 show an increase of four per cent in service expenditure bringing the total to 31,674,786.

Expenditure after transfers to and from other reserves and including the cost of funding capital and loan and lease commitments totals 35,091,286, which is an increase of three per cent from the prior year.

In summary, the estimates allow for a capital programme of 9.2 million and in increase of four per cent in net revenue expenditure.

According to Ms Leonard's report the recommendations include the adoption of the proposed non-domestic rate of 20.7143 in the and a domestic rate of 0.3387 in the .

She said she recognised that in recommending the rates there would be differential impacts across the two groups of ratepayers due to the phasing out of traditional relief that applied in the Fermanagh area of the district council.

"The net effect of all factors on the council's recommended district rate is as follows: (1) Domestic Ratepayers in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council - an increase of 2.95 per cent and (2) Non-Domestic Ratepayers in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council - an increase of 2.95 per cent. As the Regional Rate increases have not yet been agreed it is not possible to accurately project the total rate impacts across the council area."

She added that there would be a special slide show at today's meeting showing the impact of the district rate and the phasing out of transitional relief on total rates bills based on a range of potential regional rate increases.

Mr O'Shiel said rates were a key cost that a business had to absorb and any increase would be a serious issue for a business at this time.

"Every business is looking at every and all costs at the moment and any increase on any cost will get a good look at and if this is an increase, businesses will certainly notice it and it will affect them," he said.


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