Rates incentive to tackle
vacant commercial units

Cllr Seamus Butler (FF).
A newly set up committee tasked with enhancing Longford’s economic prospects is to examine the possibility of a rates incentive scheme.

A newly set up committee tasked with enhancing Longford’s economic prospects is to examine the possibility of a rates incentive scheme.

Members from Longford County Council’s Economic Development and Strategic Policy Committee will hold their first meeting of the new year next Monday.

One of the items elected members will debate centres largely on a commercial rates stimulus package.

The proposal had initially been flagged by Cllr Seamus Butler last month when the former Chamber of Commerce President called for a rebate to be given in certain instances.

Under the proposals, Cllr Butler suggested a 75 per cent allowance to be given to new businesses who set up in previously vacant units.

In year two, those conditions would drop to 50 per cent with a 25 per cent incentive being afforded in year three.

Addressing the topic ahead of next week’s meeting, Cllr Butler said the proposed scheme, if agreed upon, would take in the likes of Granard, Ballymahon and Edgeworthstown.

“It would certainly apply to businesses that set up in disused or vacant units that haven’t been occupied for a while,” he said.

Cllr Butler insisted the scheme could generate much needed revenue for the council from ratepayers who have previously struggled to meet their payments.

“With so many empty premises that haven’t been paying rates for a long number of years, the council could be getting 25 per cent of their rates where before they weren’t getting any,” he said.

The Longford businessman, who serves as the committee’s current chairperson, said the proposal had all the ingredients of becoming a long term solution for both ratepayers and businesses.

It remains to be seen, however, if the proposal will be extended to all businesses or whether it will remain the sole preserve of fledgling enterprises.

“It’s open to discussion, but all the ratepayers are getting a three per cent reduction from January.

“But what this can do is improve the fabric of the town and what’s more it will apply throughout the whole county,” he added.