The Ballybofey and Stranorlar Chamber was told that the demand of a 25 per cent rate cut in commercial rates cannot happen.
“The rates is a very live topic. We need some kind of break, something has to give,” Charlie Ferry, Chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce, told Councillors who gathered at a meeting held in Jackson’s Hotel in Ballybofey on Monday night.
Cllr. Martin Harley told those gathered that he was attending the meeting as both a local business man and as a public representative. He told people that the 25 per cent cut would beneift the big multi-national companies rather than the smaller ones. He added that a rate would be better applied to the turnover of companies rather than the size of their premises.
Cllr. Frank McBrearty urged those who were struggling with rates to sit down and talk to the council. He told those present that those he had advised to do this had been satisfied with the results adding that a three tier system on rates would be better applied.
Cllr. Cora Harvey said that the issue was a national one and that it should have been changed many years ago. “The national system needs to be changed. All we can do is fight the rate but as Martin said the only ones that will benefit will be the multi-nationals. While we are doing our best, the bigger national picture has to change.”
Cllr. Patrick McGowan criticised the rates system. He said: “It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a forecourt in Dublin or in Ballybofey they all pay the same thing. I’ll support you in anyway I can, never say never,” he said.
Cllrs advised the chamber to promote the area and in order to have a stronger voice in relation to rates to unite with other chambers. The issue of having no parking area for a coach to park and free parking periods were also raised.
“If businesses close there is a knock-on effect. The area has the second highest unemployment rate in the county and we’re not getting positive news. Without the businesses there would be no council,” Mr Ferry said.