Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has strongly opposed proposals to increase commercial rates in Donegal.
On Friday the employers' group called for no increase of commercial rates by Donegal County Council in its budget for 2018, but the budget was passed late on Friday evening with the proposal for a 5 per cent increase in commercial rates included.
Ibec North West Regional Director Terry MacNamara
Ibec say focusing on improving debt collections would play a greater role in addressing gaps in revenue and would better support economic development across the county. Finally, there should be no increase in commercial rates until every business in Donegal has been revalued under the national revaluation programme.
Ibec North West Regional Director Terry MacNamara said: “The proposed increase is excessive. It is unwarranted given the extent of commercial rates Donegal County Council fails to collect on a yearly basis. In commercial rates alone, €15 million approximately goes uncollected. This equates to one out of every three euro due in commercial rates not being collected by the Council. This is almost 10 times the amount that would be raised through the proposed increase.
“Increasing commercial rates bills of compliant local businesses is simply unfair. These businesses have had to weather the economic downturn and sustain local employment. Now they are facing the very real threat of Brexit. Instead, a better focus by Donegal County Council on improving debt collections is urgently needed.
“The commercial rates system is broken. Local businesses are expected to plug the gap of Donegal County Council’s finances for little benefit. Key services such as water are no longer the functions of the local authority and are subject to a separate invoice regardless. Businesses are already paying more for less and less. Instead, reducing the burden of commercial rates would boost local employment," he said.
“Commercial rates are based on the value of a business premises. This system dates all the way back to 1826. It is time for a change. A national revaluation programme began in earnest in 2007, yet businesses in Donegal will not be revalued until 2021. This is a full 14 years after the process began and at least two local authority areas will have been revalued for a second time. Given this, it should be agreed that no increase in commercial rates should occur in Donegal until after the revaluation process is completed”, he concluded.