Rates hike of 270 per cent for County Limerick retailer

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Proprietor, Phil Regan and staff at Regan's Centra in Pallasgreen last February after selling a winning Lotto ticket
A COUNTY Limerick retailer says their new rates figure - almost 270% higher – will compromise jobs and their whole business.

A COUNTY Limerick retailer says their new rates figure - almost 270% higher – will compromise jobs and their whole business.

Catherine Regan, of Regan’s Centra and forecourt in Pallasgreen, said after their premises was revalued their rates in 2015 will jump from €7,200 to €26,500 - including the council multiplier.

Limerick is the third county to have commercial and industrial rates revalued by the Valuation Office. Catherine said that she and her husband Phil were “absolutely gobsmacked” when they got their revised rates figure.

“Jobs will be compromised, definitely and the whole business, ultimately, will be compromised. You are struggling with tight margins, you are balancing everything, trying to keep everything right and don’t get me wrong we are grateful it is a successful business but where is the incentive for small family businesses in this country if people can come along in rural areas and do this?

“We are in a rural area, we employ 35 people between full and part-time. We are very significant employers in a rural area. It is about the fabric of rural society,” said Catherine, who has appealed the decision.

After receiving their rates figure the business woman did some research with other retailers.

“Without exception they have appealed the figure and they have said they would be under extreme pressure and couldn’t see themselves being able to meet the new figure. They vary between anything from 90 to 300%,” said Catherine, who agrees with rates in the city coming down.

“I think more and more should be done to facilitate and help businesses in the city centre. I wouldn’t say they came down by 270%. It will be back to the council then to try and get the money out of people. There is huge non-compliance in the city centre - are they going to have all the county retailers now not able to meet this?” she asked.

Catherine describes the Valuation Office’s technique as a “very blunt instrument”.

“It is not that we don’t want to pay more money. We appreciate that services must be paid for and we are overdue an increase. Our proposed figure would be actually double the €7,200. That is our maximum over the next five years that we could stretch ourselves to and even at that... We want to be compliant, we have always been compliant in every aspect of our business but there is no way we can meet this kind of an increase.

“The nature of the valuation is flawed because it is not making any difference between a person who has taken on a commercial lease and their ability to pay, and people who have invested through loans or through purchasing. Now I know we have the asset [bought in 2006] but the problem is you have to fund payment of that asset,” said Catherine, who is going to “fight this all the way”.

Cllr Elena Secas, who raised this case in the council chamber, said figures being given to businesses are not realistic.

“It will be practically impossible for them to survive. I strongly believe that for businesses to operate and keep employees this can only happen if they are given a commercially viable rates figure,” said Cllr Secas, who knows a couple of businesses in the city who couldn’t survive because of the rates.