Councillors are set to vote through the biggest ever cut in the city’s commercial rate next week.
Businesses are set for a pre-Christmas boost next Wednesday, when, as expected, councillors vote through a proposal to cut the commercial rate in the city from 74.93c per rate of valuation to 71.19c – effectively a 5% cut.
However, the water charges in the city could rise by around 10c a litre, something southside councillor Jim Long believes may offset any saving a business might make.
Chairman of the economic committee, Cllr Diarmuid Scully, pointed out if adopted, a reduced rate would place Limerick’s council charge for business lower than that in Kerry, Wicklow, Cork, Roscommon, Clare or Wexford. He added: “The days of Limerick having one of the highest rates in the country are over”.
The cut has been made possible after the government gave Limerick City Council a 3.8% rise in its local government grant, as well as under-spending in other departments last year.
The move which will also see a €250,000 marketing fund for the city, and €235,000 to support projects for Limerick’s year as Ireland’s city of culture in 2014.
If a rate cut goes through at next Wednesday’s budget meeting, it will mean that for all but one of the last eight years, Limerick City has reduced its commercial rate.
But even at 71c, the city’s commercial rate remains well ahead of the county’s rate, which is set to be frozen at 59c this year.
Despite this, the news has been welcomed by councillors and business representatives alike.
This news comes against a backdrop of a variety of cost-saving measures in other parts of the book of estimates, presented to city councillors this week.
This contains a variety of recommendations made by the city manager Conn Murray, and is likely to be adopted as a whole at next week’s meeting.
City Hall management are seeking over €3m in expenditure cuts elsewhere. All sectors which the council has responsibility for are set to see cuts in spend, with the largest set to be €1.3m from Agriculture, Education, Health and Welfare.
There are also cuts in housing and building programmes, water supply and sewerage and environmental protection.
In his report to councillors, Mr Murray confirmed “strategic demolitions” of estates earmarked for regeneration will continue in 2013.
“These demolitions will align with the overall strategic objectives. The extend of future demolition has been re-evaluated. Small scale capital projects will continue in 2013 with a view to enhancing the environment, improving security, and improving connectivity,” Mr Murray wrote.
Maria Kelly, Limerick Chamber has welcomed the proposed reduction in commercial rates: “It will give a clear signal to existing and potential investors that Limerick is a competitive location in which to do business. Cost containment and reductions are the key priorities for all businesses, and this proposed rate reduction will help stabilise struggling businesses locally.”
Mayor Gerry McLoughlin believes the increase in the grant from the government is recognition of the effort they have made in bringing the rate down in years past.
“We are showing we are doing something in Limerick and not leaving it for government to do,” he said.