NEWCASTLE West councillor Michael Collins has warned that the new valuation of commercial and business properties, published this Wednesday, could spell the end for many small and struggling businesses.
And he declared his opposition to any move to impose a 50% rate levy on vacant properties in the Limerick City and County Council’s 2015 budget. People simplyl don’t have the money to pay, he argued, pointing to the high vacancy levels in Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale.
Notices about the new valuation have now been sent to 6,700 property owners in Limerick city and county but the real impact of the valuation will not be felt until the council strikes a rate on January 12.
However, Cllr Collins, who is also Fianna Fail party leader in the council, fears that many businesses, holding on by their fingertips, could go over the edge because of a higher valuation.
He cited a case where a start-up agri-business now faced a bill for thousands of euro where before no rates applied and also gave the example of another business where the rates were now doubled.
Moreover, he added, he knew of 12 cases where representations to appeal the valuation had been rejected outright.
The new valuation of properties was carried out in 2014 by the independent Valuation Office but no information was available this Wednesday about how many properties were valued upwards, how many saw their valuations decrease or what sectors were most affected. Commissioner of Valuation, John O’Sullivan said that analysis would be carried out in the coming week. However, he stressed, the valuation was about a redistribution of the rates burden and it would be up to Limerick City and County Council to strike a rate.
In June 2014, an indicative multiplier of .24 in the euro, based on the new valuation, was suggested as this would result in the same rates income as under the old system. but it is open to the council to vary that.
“My position is that we should not increase the rate in 2015,” Cllr Michael Collins said, stressing that the council had no power to change the valuation.
His counterpart in the grand coalition, Cllr John Sheahan, who is Fine Gael party leader in the council, agreed.
“I would hope that all councilors would be responsible and strike a budget that is in the common good of the people of Limerick as a whole,” Cllr Sheahan said. “But it will probably fall to Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to do that.”
Pat O’Donovan, Newcastle West Business Association said the larger retail outlets and filling stations were worst affected. Property owners have until February 8 to appeal the valuation and a helpline has been set up at 01-8171003.