NEWS

Donegal county councillors set to reject proposed rates increase at today's budget meeting

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Email:

declan.magee@donegaldemocrat.com

Donegal county councillors set to reject proposed rates increase at today's budget meeting

County councillors are set to reject the budget proposed by council management when it comes before them today over a proposed increased in commercial rates.
Donegal County Council is proposing a five per cent increase in commercial rates for next year but all the political parties and groupings in the council say they are opposed to it.
Councillors' concern at the hike has already been voiced to the council's management at a behind-closed- door workshop meeting and today's budget meeting could be the beginning of a long process to agree a budget book for next year.
In September councillors turned down a request from the council's executive to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT). Councillors were angered last month by the council’s drastic reduction of the Development Fund Initiative in the five municipal districts.
The council’s chief executive, Seamus Neely, has proposed the increase following no change in the rates for five years.
In the council’s draft revenue budget he said a failure to increase the rates could damage the local economy.
“I want to fully acknowledge the the significant contribution from the business sector to the council's finances down the years and in proposing the general five per cent increase I am mindful that the opportunity of not doing so could impact adversely on the local economy and, by extension, the vast majority of businesses and citizens that depend on it.”
Leader of the Fianna Fáil grouping, Cllr Ciaran Brogan, said the rates increase was possibly due to the failure to increase the LPT, but the council should find other ways of balancing the books. Passing the budget was going to be “a huge challenge,” he said.
“It’s wrong in every sense of the word. An increase in commercial rates has been asked for and it is something that we in the party cannot support.
“At a budget workshop two weeks ago all political parties and groupings put their feelings very frankly to the senior management in Donegal County Council and told them that it would not be accepted. We said we were available for more conversations before the budget book was published. But that did not happen.”