The harmonisation of rates across the county has resulted in a 3% reduction in commercial rates in Longford town.
The announcement, which was welcomed by all sides, came during Longford Co Council’s Budget 2015 meeting which heard that the local authority’s financial deficit will no longer be, at the end of this year.
“This will mean that there will be no increase to the annual rate of €65.35,” Finance Director, Longford Co Council Barry Lynch said. “Rates incomes continue to be depressed and I am proposing a number of actions to target this area. The budget has been prepared on the basis of a single ARV for the county and the harmonisation of ARVs is being carried out in full in 2015 at a cost of €110K. I see this as a pro business measure which will assist the county town. As the harmonisation is being achieved in one instalment the county can then seek to reduce the ARV further from 2016 onwards should circumstances allow.”
Mr Lynch went on to say that he also intended to ask the Valuation Office to expedite the revaluation process for Co Longford to spread the burden of rates more equitably amongst existing businesses. “The new Valuation Bill is expected to help in this regard once enacted,” he added.
Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Seamus Butler said the move would make Longford one of the best small counties in Ireland to do business in, while Cllr Gerry Warnock added, “The harmonisation of the town and county Rate of Valuation to last year’s maintained county rate of 65.35 is very welcome.
“This would equate to an approximate reduction of 3% in rates to businesses within the former Longford Town Council boundary.
“This measure is crucial in allowing the council to apply a countywide reduction in subsequent years, should economic conditions allow.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Mae Sexton (Ind) sought assurances from Mr Lynch that Longford Co Council would not seek to remove property from owners who were unable to pay rates. “It is not our intent to force the sale of property,” answered Mr Lynch.
“However, if a property is sold, we will be entitled to the proceeds.”
Cllr Paul Ross (FG) then concluded proceedings by adding, “I welcome the rates harmonisation.
“I hope we can take inspiration from our great leader [Enda Kenny] and make Longford the place in which to do business”.
After the tittering stopped, Cllr Seamus Butler (FF) said there were rates that could never be collected and the local authority would have to look at “writing them off”.