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Rates to increase by 2 percent

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PROPOSAL Fianna Fáil's Cllr Damien Ryan tabled a rate increase of 2 percent at yesterday's (Monday) Mayo County Council Annual Budget Meeting. The council themselves initially proposed a 4 percent rise. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Ciara Galvin

RATEPAYERS will see a two percent hike in rates following the passing of yesterday’s (Monday) Mayo County Council budget.
After three adjournments and hours of heated debate within the council chamber, a commercial rate of €75.40 was passed, an increase of two percent on last year.
An initial proposal of four percent was on the table, however, a vote to reduce this to two percent was passed by a vote of 14 councillors to eleven.
Cllr Damien Ryan (Fianna Fáil) addressed the chamber and said the local authority finds itself in ‘extremely difficult economic circumstances’, while counterparts in the east of the country are ‘awash with money’.
Before outlining an amended budget proposal to the council, he said a ‘rebalancing’ needed to happen. He also asked for a ten-year-plan of capital programmes to be brought before the councillors early next year.
Describing the initial proposal of a 4 percent increase in rates as ‘astronomical’, the Fianna Fáil councillor then outlined a host of amendments in order to facilitate the 2 percent increase.
A reduction from 4 percent to 2 percent equates to €637,409 in lost revenue for the council. Cllr Ryan proposed a reduction in the Small Business Support Scheme which would see a saving of €140,000, along with a reduction in irrecoverable rates of €100,000.
Other reductions included €50,000 for the property entry levy, and a further €25,000 over what was initially budgeted for pay and display. The amendments mentioned equated to €491,000. Addressing the council expenditure, Cllr Ryan detailed that €25,000 could be taken off the provision of dealing with Japanese Knotweed, while €25,000 would be taken off tourism promotion, along with €25,000 off parks and open spaces.  
Cllr Ryan then asked for an extra €100,000 to be ring fenced for verge cutting.
“I hope it’s workable, I’ve done the best in the most brutal way possible to identify the savings to minimise the hardship and to try and allow this local authority to go forward in a fruitful and progressive manner,” concluded Cllr Ryan.
The proposal to amend the budget was seconded by Cllr Michael Kilcoyne.
In two votes, one to pass the amendments and a second to pass the amended budget, the vote returned 14 in favour and eleven against.
For: Cllrs John Caulfield, Richard Finn, Blackie Gavin, Gerry Ginty, Michael Holmes, Christy Hyland, Michael Kilcoyne, Michael Loftus, Al McDonnell, Annie May Reape, Damien Ryan, Michael Smyth, Martin McLoughlin and Brendan Mulroy.
Against: Cllrs Cyril Burke, Tom Connolly, Gerry Coyle, John Cribbin, Neil Cruise, Tereasa McGuire, Jarlath Munnelly, Gerry Murray, Patsy O’Brien, Joe McHale and John O’Hara.
Cllr Paul McNamara abstained from both votes, while Cllrs Frank Durcan, Henry Kenny, Teresa Whelan and Seamus Weir were absent for the votes.
Speaking following the rate being struck, CEO of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes said following a review from the council’s Director of Finance Peter Duggan, it was ‘possible’ the amended budget could be balanced.
“Our Director of Finance has pushed as close to the wind as it is possible to push within any degree of responsibility and the proposal that has been outlined is just about possible,” said the CEO.
Commercial rates are calculated by multiplying the rateable valuation of a property by the Annual Rate of Valuation. The rateable valuation of a commercial property is the value of the property determined independently by the Commissioner of Valuation. The annual rate of valuation is determined annually by councillors at the Budget meeting.

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