'No account taken' of Kildare businesses' ability to pay rates

Rates concern at meeting

Henry Bauress

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Henry Bauress

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henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

'No account taken' of Kildare businesses' ability to pay rates

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“The Valuations Office has taken no account of people’s ability to pay. That must be changed,” Cllr Mark Lynch (SF) told last Monday's Kildare County Council meeting,

He was referring to the huge rate increases faced by many business across Kildare.

Kildare County Council’s financial officer, Eileen Hanlon said the council would not get an increase in the €58m rate income.

She gave councillors details as to how the rates were worked out. She said the law dictated the new valuations.

KCC Chief Executive, Peter Carey pointed out the rates were calculated by the Valuations Office, and not the council. He said it was totally separate.

He stressed the misunderstanding was regrettable.

READ ALSO: Kildare businesswoman angry over rates increase calls for fight back

Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy (FG) raised the possibility that the council might have to raise the Annual Rate on Valuation (AMV) if there was a shortfall in the predicted €58m. The AMV is currently .24% for businesses.

Cllr Martin Miley (FF) said rates for horse trainers had “gone up enormously.”

“Half of Athy’s main street is empty, yet some of the businesses have seen an increase in their valuation,” he said.

He said it was rare in the south of the county that anyone had seen a decrease.

Many of the councillors urged businesses to make an appeal if they were unhappy with the calculations.

The meeting was informed it appeared the increases had occurred from Naas and Newbridge down towards the south of the county.

Cllr Suzanne Doyle (FF) said some of the increases were quite significant. “There needs to be some lobbying or the reclassification for the people in racing,” she said. She stressed town centres had been “smashed” in some places due to the recession.

The Valuation Act 2001 provides for valuations to be carried out by the Valuation Office every five years.

In November, the Valuation Office informed local authorities there would a 27% reduction in the combined valuations for Gas Networks Ireland, Iarnrod Eireann and telecommunications companies BT Ireland, Eircom, Vodafone, Three Ireland and Meteor. At the council’s budget meeting, Sinn Féin criticised the government’s decision to grant what it called “a massive rate-break to for-profit utility companies at the expense of hard pressed businesses and the citizens of County Kildare.”