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Rate rises coming down the tracks

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CALL FOR ADVANCE NOTICE Cllr Paul McNamara wants businesses that could be affected by rates revaluations to be told in advance.


Anton McNulty

Businesses are in for a shock with rates set to rise after a revaluation takes place in the county, according to Achill councillor Paul McNamara.
Members of Mayo County Council were informed by the council’s head of finance, Peter Duggan, that Mayo will be one of nine counties to undergo a revaluation process that will examine all rated properties. The process is due to commence in October and is expected to take two years.
Mr Duggan explained that from next year, all rates will be frozen, all properties will be revalued and a new rate will then be calculated.
“What it effectively means is that for some sectors their rate burdens will go up, while there will be other sectors where the rates will decrease. It will be zero sum gain for the local authorities. There will be no additional income arising out of this. It is simply taking the rate book as it stands and redistributing the burden,” he said.
Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara told Mr Duggan that a number of businesses that are  not currently paying high rates will see their rates bill rise.
“Are businesses going to be made aware that all of a sudden that in 2021 their rates could go up considerably?” he asked Mr Duggan, who replied that yes, this may occur.
“If we have a second- or third-generation building, be it a corner shop or pub, and a new building built in the boom, there is a big difference in rates of those two properties. In the recalculation of the rates, the 2006 [boom built] one will come down, but the other ones will go way up. There is no question that some businesses will get a shock and their rates could multiply. These businesses will need to be aware of this,” Cllr McNamara warned.
Mr Duggan explained that the valuation officer will be informing rate payers of the process and will be holding workshops and clinics for public representatives and rate payers, where the process will be explained.
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council Peter Hynes said that the rate book needs to be modernised.
“For as long I have been in this council there has always been a gripe that there is inequity in the rating system. Some of the evaluations go back to the year dot … some should have changed. In some cases, businesses have transformed dramatically. Some upwards and downwards.
“This is a chance for the rate book to be modernised and cleaned up. It will be absolutely in the open […] There will be no increase in revenue for this council.
“But inevitably there are businesses which have a hugely increased turnover, like the retail petrol pumps, and other traditional businesses, like pubs, which have declined. You would expect and it is their [valuation officers] intention that all of that will be factored into the revaluation exercise,” he said.
Mr Hynes said there will be ample opportunity for councillors and rate payers to engage with the process, and that he strongly advises them to do that.
Cllr McNamara added that he hopes that the valuation officers take into account businesses that rely on tourism and are only open for six months of the year when calculating the new rate.