THE Limerick Chamber has called on new Limerick local authority manager Conn Murray to deliver a reduction in commercial rates - and provide a fund to promote and market the city.
In the next fortnight, councillors will be shown the annual budget for 2013. A crucial aspect of this for local businesses is the level of the commercial rate, which stands at just over 70c per rate of valuation.
Speaking on the need for savings for their members, Chamber CEO Maria Kelly said: “Rates are the third highest cost to businesses and our new Limerick Authority must do everything it can to support enterprise and job retention and creation.”
She said that despite the plans to amalgamate the local authorities - which the Chamber supported from the outset - savings have yet to be seen.
“Three years on we are still to see any significant change in commercial rates for city businesses. The differential between county and city is almost 25%. Minister Phil Hogan’s recent paper ‘Putting People First’ suggests that this gap will be fully re-balanced by 2015. To realistically achieve this it must be introduced on a phased basis.”
Ms Kelly warned if this does not happen, further city businesses will close, further “eroding” the city’s rates base.
Calling for a separate fund, Ms Kelly added: “This money must be used – in addition to council’s current spend in the area – to deliver a focused promotional, marketing, events and festivals campaign for the city. The urgent need for this cannot be underestimated, with the reorganisation of Shannon Development a huge void exists and as a city-region we are in fear of greater decline.”
“The fund must also be used to deliver a suite of targeted incentives and initiatives to drive business growth within the city’s core: to promote Limerick both nationally and internationally as a competitive attractive business location,” she concluded.