COUNTY businesses could face a steep commercial rates hike when the two local authorities amalgamate in 2014.
Despite initial claims the merger of Limerick City and County Council will bring with it annual savings of between €15m and €20m - meaning rates would fall - the group charged with bringing the services together has admitted savings would be more “limited” than this.
When he announced the merger, Environment Minister Phil Hogan said he expected the commercial rate in the city to decrease to that of the county in 2014, leaving all Limerick businesses facing a rate of 59c.
However, in its initial report - revealed in the Limerick Leader this week - the Denis Brosnan-chaired Reorganisation Implementation Group said to “equalise” the rates would cost €6m annually.
And with councillors who have sat on an advisory committee to the implementation group saying the savings brought about by the new local authority will be between €2m and €3m, it has been claimed that unless the government gives the new authority a loan or donation, it will mean the rate paid by county businesses will have to rise to the level of the city.
In turn, city businesses would see a modest reduction from its high rate of 79c.
The report states: “It will take a number of years to accrue all potential cost savings and to increase income which may be used to reduce the level of commercial rates.