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Councillors consider request for 3 percent rate hike


Anton McNulty

THE executive of Mayo County Council have proposed to increase the commercial rate by three percent for the coming year in order to balance the council’s budget.
The recommendation to introduce a three percent rate increase was made to councillors by the executive of Mayo County Council when they presented their 2020 draft annual budget for approval at yesterday’s budget meeting in Castlebar.
The proposed increase in rates for 2020 will undoubtedly result in another stand-off between councillors and the executive after the elected members refused a recommendation to increase the local property tax by 15 percent in September.
There is currently a €2.7 million deficit in Mayo County Council’s finances and the executive say the increase in rates is needed to help plug the deficit.
The meeting was adjourned until next Monday with the whips of the Fianna Fáil councillors and the five members of the Independent group, which control the balance of power in the chamber, expected to meet for discussions during the week to broker a deal.
Last year, Fianna Fáil and some Independent councillors introduced a two percent increase in the rates but another three percent rise is expected to be met by opposition in some quarters.

Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara told The Mayo News that he will be opposing any suggestion of a further increase in rates for the coming year. The Fianna Fáil councillor defied his colleagues last year by abstaining from the vote in protest and says he will do the same this year if he has to.
“Last year I could not support a two percent increase in rates and I certainly won’t be supporting a three percent increase for 2020. The retail sector has been struggling with competition from the online sector and cannot afford a further increase in rates. The small local stores and businesses are being squeezed out. You can see it by the number of white vans around the place delivering goods bought online. Now Mayo County Council are proposing a three percent increase. It is crazy and I can’t support it,” he said.
Cllr McNamara added that Mayo County Council are to undergo a revaluation process for all rates properties which could result in large rate increases for some small businesses. He said this is another reason for not supporting a rate increase this year.
The council executive have also proposed a 50 percent reduction in the councillors General Municipal Allocation (GMA) but this is expected to be opposed by all councillors in the chamber.