A four percent increase in commercial rates for Mayo businesses has been slammed by a leading retail representative.
Vincent Jennings is CEO of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) which has over 50 members in Mayo, including all the Spar, Londis, Centra and Super Valu stores in the county.
Last week Mayo County Council passed a four percent hike in commercial rates. The executive of Mayo County Council initially proposed a three percent rise in rates but in order to offset cuts in General Maintenance Allocations (GMAs) funding, the Fianna Fáil/Independence alliance which holds power in the council proposed a four percent hike.
The rise includes the caveat that there be no increase in rates for 2021 and no reduction in the GMAs for that year either.
“I cannot believe that Mayo councillors took the council’s proposal of three percent and increased it to four percent,” Mr Jennings told The Mayo News last night (Monday).
“It is a load of rubbish. This increase is so far ahead of inflation, it is a joke. They are expecting one part of the community to be flathúlach with their money and not do anything to look at where cuts can be made in the council.
“As an outsider I can see levels of waste attributable to every single council I deal with. It wouldn’t take me long to go through the budget of Mayo County Council and show the extraordinary excesses there. I’ve seen it everywhere. There is a huge amount of waste in local authorities yet the cost is passed onto businesses instead of looking at themselves. Why did the councillors not engage with the ratepayers about where they see the council wasting money? Because the ratepayers see it in their day to day lives.
“The council are the only people who can provide some services. Like, take for example, roadsweeping. The council charge businesses for these services but businesses cannot find out if these services are properly costed and efficient. They are expected to pay and ask no questions and now they are expected to pay an increase in rates beyond inflation. It is outrageous,” he said.
His views were echoed by Paul Lawless, the Aontú candidate for the next general election who described the increase as ‘cruel’.
“I am very disappointed with this week’s confirmation of Mayo County Council’s cruel rates increases on Mayo businesses. The level of rates are already far too high for many businesses and now they will face an excessive four percent increase.
“This news only comes days after Government recommended pay rises of around €8,000 per year for each councillor. What message does this send to struggling businesses, where the council demand even more hard earned money from Mayo business owners while they take a huge pay increase for themselves?
“I have met many business owners across our municipal area when I ran in the local elections and indeed even more across the county since, who tell me of their fear that they may not keep their doors open beyond six months,” said Lawless.