Record 8% reduction in rates made in Bundoran
by Matt Britton
Despite the extremely difficult financial climate one Town Council in Donegal has taken the brave step and reduced commercial rates by a record 8%,
At the monthly meeting of Bundoran Town Council it was decided after long discussions to impose this reduction "in recognition of the difficult times that many of the town's traders are experiencing and also as an incentive for new businesses to set up."
Town Manager Gary Martin introducing the strategy for the coming year would be very much on savings and value for money.
Mr. Martin said, "In the ongoing difficult economic climate, there will be a strong focus on the need to achieve savings, value for money and improved efficiencies while still continuing to maintain and improve the services to the customers in the town.
"I am also very conscious of the need to support the competitiveness of the business sector in Bundoran and to protect employment in the context of reduced economic activity."
Recognising the fact that there had been no increase in the rates over the last four years Mr. Martin said that the proposed reduction presented a sizeable challenge: "This presents a significant challenge for the Council but I am confident that through active management of efficiency and productivity, this can be achieved without any negative impact on the quality of the service we provide."
The proposal to reduce the commercial rates was made by Cllr. Phillip McGlynn and seconded by Cllr. Sean McEniff.
Cllr. Mc Glynn said, "In this harsh economic climate it is vital that we maintain the competitiveness here in Bundoran.
"There is very little that we can do in relation to continually rising oil prices - insurance costs; these are totally out of our control but in reducing the town rate, we can offer some incentive to the businesses in the town, many of whom are fighting for survival in extremely difficult times.
"We can achieve savings and I would also be proposing that we do not embark on any major capital projects in the coming year. The access roads from the by - pass have to be finished by the NRA and Donegal Co. Counci and there is also some sewage works to be completed, These works must be done but do not come out of our budget."
Cllr. Sean McEniff said, "This reduction of 8% in the rates is unprecedented in the current climate and will offer a welcome respite to the many businesses in the town.
"Savings can be achieved without affecting any of the existing services - it will require prudent management but it can be done.
"We have reserves in the bank to deal with any contingency and the funding is in place for Waterworld.
"This is a progressive budget and hopefully will not only sustain employment in the town but further enhance it."
Cllr. Florence McNulty said that she felt that this budget was a ‘tourism budget' and not for the ordinary people and wanted it placed on record that she was opposed to it.