BUSINESSES in Shannon are paying multiples of the commercial rates of similar operations in Nenagh, this week’s meeting of Shannon Town Council heard.
At the meeting, Councillor Cathy McCafferty called for a “significant reduction” in commercial rates for next year.
“Every year since I was elected to Shannon Town Council I have tabled a motion calling for commercial rates to be reduced. It is not something I do lightly. In my job I regularly meet owners of small businesses and I know, from first-hand experience that many of them are struggling to survive these most difficult times,” she said.
Councillor McCafferty said a local group have held two meetings on the topic of rates and that at the most recent one, statistics were presented indicating that rates of €6,200 have to be paid on a 1,000 square foot shop unit in Shannon, compared to €4,500 in Limerick City and €1,850 in Nenagh.
She also said that of 85 town and county council areas, Shannon is the fifth most expensive to do business in, while it was said to have among the highest water rates in the country.
The independent councillor said rates have not fallen, even though business people’s takings are well down.
“Since 2009, when I first raised the issue of commercial rates here, Clare County Council has not increased the rate but nor have they reduced it. So while most people have experienced significant reductions in their business, the fact is that the rates, in proportion to their income, has become an increasing business expense.
“We are also told that the problem is with the Valuation Office in Dublin. While it’s certainly true that valuations are outdated, this does not explain why the multiplier, which is set by Clare County Council, is so much higher than in other places. Nor does this explain why the proportion paid by ratepayers to the cost of running the local authority is so high, at 35%.”
She said local county councillors have to take responsibility for their decisions.
“The fact of the matter is that it will be 32 councillors in Clare who will decide whether commercial rates will be reduced, kept at the same very expensive levels or increased. Not the TDs and not the senators. The councillors and no one else.”
Labour Party Councillor Tony McMahon said he was in agreement with Councillor McCafferty.
“I sympathise, as a former rate payer. It is a very significant cost and it should be looked at in the context of retaining employment.”