LIMERICK is to become the cheapest city in which to do business next year, as the council proposes a massive 16% cut in rates.
If councillors pass next year’s budget without change at a meeting on Monday next, it will see the charge for businesses fall from 71c per rate of valuation to just under 60c per rate of valuation.
Business owners are compelled to pay the multiplier charge based on the valuation of their property, conducted on a national level.
Up to now, Limerick was among one of the most expensive cities in the country for businesses.
But thanks to a €3.5m grant from the Department of the Environment, it now means the commercial charge can be brought to the same level as that in Co Limerick - including stores in the Crescent Shopping Centre.
The 15.8% reduction will, if passed by councillors, bring about a uniform annual commercial rate for all of county Limerick, ahead of the merger of the two authorities come July.
City and County Council manager Conn Murray described the move as a “significant and positive milestone”.
“The value of this rate reduction equates to €4.59 million going back to the ratepayers and should significantly help businesses to remain competitive and will for the first time in our history bring about a single [rate] for Limerick. This unprecedented reduction will help stimulate the local economy and shows the commitment of Limerick City Council to businesses in order to generate employment and create an environment for continued growth and prosperity,” he explained.
Chairman of the economic committee, Cllr Diarmuid Scully admitted he was “surprised” by the massive cut - saying that until this Monday, he was anticipating a 5% cut.
It is understood that Mr Murray only learned about the grant on Friday night.
“We had been working towards a 5% reduction - this was the most we would have been able to manage out of our own resources. I didn’t expect ministers Phil Hogan and Michael Noonan to play the role of Santa Claus,” he said. “This has removed the disincentive to do business in the city. It is now cheaper to do business in the city.”
Southside Labour councillor Joe Leddin added: “Limerick City Council by adopting this rate reduction is sending a clear message that the city is very much open for business and we are determined to redevelop the city centre through a combination of public private investment: no one likes to see empty shop units and derelict buildings and for every empty retail or shop unit there are human stories and job losses involved.”
Councillors will meet to adopt the budget, and strike the rate next Monday afternoon at 2pm.