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County Council agree to freeze 2012 rates

Mayo County Councillors agree to freeze 2012 rates

Trevor Quinn

Mayo County Councillors agreed to freeze commercial, water and rent rates for 2012 after some lively debate at Mayo County Council’s 2012 budget meeting in Castlebar on Friday last.
County Manager Peter Hynes told councillors that The Local Government Fund has been reduced significantly in recent years, and this has posed some tough budgetary challenges for Mayo County Council.
In 2012, the overall budgeted expenditure will be €130,252,752, down marginally from the €131,952,449 spent in 2011. However, the total expenditure is down a considerable 14.7 per cent from the  €152, 317,866 budget total in 2008.
Cllr Michael McNamara (FF) had proposed a reduction of 1 per cent to rates and service support costs in order to offer some positive hope to businesses. However, this was defeated 17-10 after a vote in the chamber.
All of the Fine Gael councillors voted against the proposal, along with independent councillor Gerry Ginty, while all of the Fianna Fáil councillors, all of the Sinn Féin councillors and the remaining independent councillors voted in favour of the proposal. 
Prior to the vote and during discussions Cllr Gerry Coyle (FG) had argued that while larger multinational retailers could save thousands as a result of the proposal, many small businesses would only save in the region of  €50 or €100 if the alteration was implemented.
Fine Gael Councillor Joe Mellett sated, “We would love if we could reduce the rates by 10 or 20 per cent but unfortunately it is just not possible. A one per cent reduction will see a small business with rates of €5,000 have their costs reduced by €50. I would argue that taking €121,000 out of the council budget to give a lot of shopkeepers €20 a year is nonsensical.”
The county’s Annual Rate on Valuation for commercial and industrial property will remain at €68.76 for the year, the same as the amount levied in 2011 and 2010.
There was more support for Cllr McNamara’s second proposal in which he called for a two-tier rates system based on the level of footfall and the size of a particular town.
Cllr McNamara said this proposal would give Councils discretion on applying rates within a county and lower rates could be applied in smaller towns where there is lower footfall and less opportunity for business.
The Achill-based councillor said that a review of the rates system should also be carried out at national level.
All of the councillors supported this motion, and Cllr Mellett said a meeting with Phil Hogan to discuss the proposal could be arranged. “I will endeavour to support […] a two-tier system. If it means a meeting with Minister Hogan let’s do that,” he said.

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