A FORMER city accountant has called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to abolish the requirement for charges to be collected on vacant properties.
At the moment, Limerick City Council charges the owner of empty properties 50% of the commercial rate. This is in accordance with the Limerick City Management Act.
But over the boundary in the county, property owners do not have to pay any commercial rate if it is unoccupied.
Now, Dermot O’Reilly, of the North Circular Road, has written to local TD Mr Noonan calling on him to abolish the separate law which exists in Limerick City allowing the local authority take a 50 per cent rate.
He points to two separate laws. While Section 23 of the local Government Act 1946 states the owners of vacant properties get a full refund of the commercial rate they pay - in essence, meaning they pay nothing, the Limerick City Management Act 1934 provides a loophole allowing city management apply a charge.
Mr O’Reilly feels this a potential turn off to industry.
“No commercial rates should be charged on any vacant properties in the country,” he argues, “If these facts were known to prospective new industries, it may put them off from establishing new industries in Dublin City, Cork City and Limerick City thereby hindering job creation”.
In response, Limerick City Council argued that it is operating a Retail Incentive Scheme for vacant property.
“This scheme offers financial incentives for the encouragement of city centre higher order retail uses on key Limerick city streets in order to address vacancy on these locations. Further details of this scheme are available on Limerick City Council’s website: www.limerickcity.ie or by contacting Limerick City Council’s Property Management section,” said acting director of Finance Pat Murnane.
He also confirmed that 19% of the arrears on vacant properties was being owed to the City Council at December 31 last.