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Public plea for rates freeze ignored, hike vote passed

DESPITE promising a “minimal” increase this year, the Council has voted to raise rates for householders by even more than last year. 
Last week the Council voted to raise domestic rates by 2.79 percent. 
That’s more than last year’s increase of 2.3 percent, and brings the total increase in the Council’s domestic rates to almost a fifth (19 percent) over the past eight years. The Council has since claimed this will mean “average” rate payers will see an increase of “approximately” 22p per week. 
This is based on the Council’s claims that the average domestic rate bill is only £416.
The truth is, that is only around half the average bill facing households, as only half of domestic rates are set by the Council, with the other half set by central government. 
With the return of Stormont, the regional domestic rates half of the bill could also be raised this year. 
A spokesman for the Council has said its increase in the domestic rates had been for a number of reasons, including rising costs facing the Council, “inflationary price increases”, waste cost increases, and to make up a shortfall it will face by freezing its business rates. 
The increase is also to pay for upcoming projects it has planned, including upgrading its recycling facilities, the Enniskillen Public Realm Scheme, village renewal projects, and the Enniskillen Workhouse project. 
“The income from the district rate will be used to fund local Council services across the district in the forthcoming year and to support the initial development of a £100 million long term capital investment programme in local facilities and infrastructure,” said the spokesman. 
“The district rate has been set in a financial climate of uncertainty and rising costs for the Council which has included reduced central government funding.” 
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