AS far both councils are concerned, there will be no job losses when Fermanagh and Omagh councils amalgamate in April next year.
It will be a ‘significant’ employer, according to Brendan Hegarty, its chief executive.
The two existing ‘townhalls’ will continue to operate, with 356 staff based in Enniskillen and 383 in Omagh, along with some 33-43 planners.
Planning decisions on local issues is one of the extra functions of the new Fermanagh and Omagh council.
Mr Hegarty sat alongside Thomas O’Reilly, the presiding councillor and Margaret McMahon, one of the two ‘change’ managers, at a public consultation meeting in Lisnaskea last week.
He told the meeting that all staff would be kept in post: “In so far as possible, all jobs will be accommodated, although, where senior managers are concerned, there may be some retionalisation.”
The council’s other new responsibilities include urban regeneration and community development, local economic development and local tourism, rural development (in part), and off-street parking.
Mr Hegarty explained that from 1st April next year, the new council will be taking on the duties of the existing councils, from recreation and sport to ownership of St Angelo Airport.
He said waste management, reducing the amount going straight into landfill, would continue to be the new council’s biggest expenditure.
“For every tonne of waste that goes into landfill, we are charged £82.50, and if we don’t meet those targets, we face fines in the region of £250 a tonne.”
He then revealed that ratepayers living in Lisnaskea, Irvinestown and Enniskillen would shortly be getting brown bins to put their food and green (eg grass cuttings) waste into.
He then focused on the new rates bills.
He explained that the new (district) rate for the new council would not be known till January or February next year.
“We are not in position to predict what the rate will be. All we can do is go back to the rates convergence model for Fermanagh/Omagh. It predicted that, at that time, an increase for Fermanagh ratepayers of 7.4 per cent (domestic rate) and 4.5 per cent (non-domestic).
“The government are currently working on quantifying exactly what the difference will be, but Fermanagh is one of four most impacted areas.
“Are we likely to see an increase in the domestic rate of seven per cent? Central government are saying ‘No’. They have allocated £30m of rates convergence support which will offset that. We are told this scheme will operate for three to four years.”
The new council will be 40-strong and will represent a population of 113,500 of whom 64 per cent are Catholic and 33 per cent Protestant.