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District Council’s outstanding loans total £11.7m

A TOTAL of £11.7 million in loans remained unpaid by Fermanagh and  Omagh District Council at the end of the 2015-2016 financial year,  
according to the latest Local Government Auditor’s Report.

It is the second lowest of all the councils in the north, and shows a  £1.1 million reduction on the loans outstanding from the two legacy  
councils of Omagh and Fermanagh when they ceased operation on March  31, 2015.

Mid-Ulster Council, with outstanding loans of £10.8 million, is the  only local government body whose loan debts are lower. However, the  
amount of its loans increased by over £5 million in the first year of  the new council.

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But the figures released as part of the report show that the General  Fund held by Fermanagh and Omagh Council is the lowest of all at only  
£2.7 million.

The auditor has urged councils to continue to monitor and build-up  their balance to ensure that they are ‘adequately funded’ to meet the  
risk of future liabilities, some of which may be unpredictable,  according to the Auditor, Louise Mason.

Her report shows that the staff costs of Fermanagh and Omagh Council  are the lowest of all at an average of £32, 478, but that this figure  
falls to £30,113 when staff severance costs over recent years are  taking into account.

One area of concern is around absenteeism levels and the Auditor has  urged councils to rigorously manage absence figures to ensure that the  delivery of front-line services is not adversely affected.

She said that the benefits of a more detailed study on absenteeism  would be ‘kept under review.’

Her report shows that the levels of short-term and long-term absence  in Fermanagh and Omagh council are below the overall average.

It reports that there are currently between six and eight staff on  long-term sickness absence, and a further three on short-term sickness  
absence.

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The report also makes a number of recommendations in relation to the  ‘realignment of procedures’ as councils merged in the new  organisations. It also reinforces the need for good government  arrangements in local government.

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