Waste management sparks rise in Omagh rates

THE rising costs surrounding waste management and the introduction of a new living wage has contributed to the rise in local rates.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council increased both domestic and non-domestic rates by 2.95 per-cent on Wednesday night. Derry and Strabane increased its rates by 2.76 per-cent last Tuesday, while the Mid Ulster District Council will strike its rate in Dungannon tonight (Monday).
However ratepayers face uncertainty over the actual increase to their bills due to the impasse at Stormont and the fact that a regional rate has yet to be struck.
The final rate used to calculate bills comprises both the rates struck by councils and the Executive.
On Wednesday night, senior officials at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council reflected how the significant increases surrounding waste had contributed to the decision to increase rates by just under three per-cent.
The cost of collecting waste is expected to rise by eight per-cent this year from £2.8m to £3.1m, while the cost of waste disposal will likely rise by five per-cent from £4.9 to £5.1m.
It means the cost of collecting and disposing our waste has gone up by £478,457 in one year.
Overall, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said the amount it needs to raise from ratepayers has increased by £883,351 this year.
Explaining the rise in a statement, a council spokesperson said, “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.”
The Fermanagh and Omagh Council has also revealed that the decision to adopt the Living Wage Foundation minimum wage of £8.45 per hour, along with adoption of an apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per-cent, has resulted in an additional cost of £380,000.
The new pay measures will be introduced from April 2017.

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