Amid anger and frustration during a heated discussion on commercial rates at a co council meeting just before Christmas, councillors agreed that the system has become outdated and a more “human approach” was now necessary.
They also agreed that the time had come to write to the Minister in an effort to highlight the difficulties to him.
“I can’t understand what has happened in relation to rates,” fumed Cllr Mae Sexton (Ind). “Longford Co Council used to use common sense - when premises could be blocked off or separated, rates decreased - but the legislation hasn’t changed, so it has to be us that has changed our approach and is this what is causing the problem?”
Cllr Sexton went on to point out the flaws that were currently evident within the new Evaluation Office which allows ratepayers with grievances to speak to government officials. She claimed it was not working and that the concept was just a figment of imagination, because as far as she was concerned.
“It is an office that does not exist in Longford”.
“It is disgraceful what is going on here and something needs to be done about this - and done fast.”
During last week’s budget meeting which saw rates remain static at €63.35, Cllr Martin Mulleady (FF) said there was “absolutely no incentives for businesses in Co Longford” in this year’s agreement.
“The rates issue has to be dealt with once and for all,” he added.
“I am not happy about this issue; we are working with an 18th century system of rates collection, in a different time and where there are different needs to be addressed, so it has to be sorted out once and for all.”
In conclusion, Finance Director Barry Lynch admitted that while there were “difficulties” with the Evaluation Office, the main problem as he saw it “was a legislative one”.
“The Evaluation Office is trying to implement legislation, so I agree totally that the entire system needs to be reformed,” he said.