THERE has been a 40% hike in the overall cost of running Clare County Council since 2018, according to an analysis of recent Budgets.
The adopted Budget has increased from €111 million in 2018 to €117.5 million in 2019, €128 million in 2020, €131.4 million in 2021 and to €138.6 million in 2022.
Back in 2018, Clare County Council’s commercial rate was the sixth highest in the country and looks set to climb even higher in the national league table after the decision to increase rates by 3.8% for the first time in 13 years.
It has emerged that since 2014, commercial rates have increased by Ennis increase by 16.73% in Ennis and by 22.38% in Kilrush.
A submission made by the council to the Local Government baseline review in 2018 highlights ”the need for change in order to bring greater balance and equity for funding for County Clare”.
“Clare County Council was penalised by the Needs and Resources model and this has continued into perpetuity to the Local Property Tax equalisation allocation model.
“A study of the Needs and Resource model of Clare County Council completed by Grant Thornton in 2006 identified a funding shortfall of €1.6 million at the time.”
With more than €2 million of the Local Property Tax €10 million income being diverted to the National Equalisation Fund, only 64% of the amount collected in 2018 was allocated to support local services.
The submission pointed out there is no recognition for authorities whose rate of valuation is at the higher end of the scale.
If Clare County Council’s ARV was applied to neighbouring authorities, one authority would generate €8.8 million in extra income, another €6 million and the other €2.5 million
“In effect the funding allocation impacts negatively on those authorities with high ARV’s. In the three cases where additional commercial rates could be generated, the same authorities are receiving extra LPT from the equalisation fund.
Citing this submission, Councillor Johnny Flynn said some neighbouring counties have commercial rates almost 33% lower than Clare County Council, which makes counties like Limerick and Galway more attractive for foreign direct investment.
The Ennis Councillor pointed out Clare County Council and Galway City Council are the only two local authorities on the west coast that are net contributors to the LPF equalisation fund.
He opposed the rate increase as hospitality is on its knees, while Ennis retailers suffered very badly during Covid-19 restrictions.
At a recent Ennis Municipal District meeting, Councillor Flynn proposed Clare’s Oireachtas members should be present at the Budget meeting because there were failing the county by not getting adequate local government funding.
by Dan Danaher