Longford set to benefit from scheme aimed at rewarding compliant commercial ratepayers?

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Micheal Carrigy

Cllr Micheál Carrigy wants to reward local businesses who pay their rates on time

Hard pressed ratepayers could be thrown an economic lifeline courtesy of a new business support scheme.

Hard pressed ratepayers could be thrown an economic lifeline courtesy of a new business support scheme.

Longford County Council is examining the possibility of introducing a new Business Support Scheme to help businesses whose annual rates bill is €10,000 or under.

The concept is one which is the brainchild of Cllr Micheal Carrigy following an extensive survey the Fine Gael representative conducted with local businesses.

Cllr Carrigy has drawn up a plan that could see firms with rate-bases of €10,000 or less being afforded a five to 10 per cent refund.

The one caveat however provides that all eligible businesses must have their liability and outstanding arrears paid by July 1 2018.

The scheme, should it be enacted, would also apply to ratepayers set up on direct debit payments with credit being applied to their accounts from January 1 2019.

Addressing the topic as councillors returned from their summer recess last Wednesday, Cllr Carrigy said there was a need to appease struggling ratepayers.

“It's (rates) the one thing that keeps cropping up time and again,” he said.

Cllr Carrigy said the issuing of new valuations to businesses by the Valuations Office in recent weeks made the introduction of the strategy all the more opportune.

“We need to incentivise and give something back to those ratepayers that do pay their rates,” he said.

“There is new legislation being drafted at the minute and it would be nice to see the local authority incentivising and rewarding those that do pay their rates.”

Cllr Carrigy said the prospect of a rates rebate could go a long way towards improving compliance levels but also serve to free up funding earlier in the year for various local projects to be started.

They were soundings which were met with wholesale approval from other elected members.

Fianna Fáil's Seamus Butler said the proposal had many merits and likened the impact it could have to a similarly devised rates incentive set up some two and a half years earlier.

Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) said she too was supportive of the measure in light ofthe knock-on effects it could have on local communities.

“Any money that can be used as matched funding I am an advocate for,” she said.

“I have been harping on about the need to have shovel ready projects for so long now it used to be the butt end of jokes at municipal district meetings.

“I say that, but I have seen the amount of funding we lost because we didn't have shovel ready projects ready to go.”