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Limerick councillors rubber stamp cut in city rates

Limerick City and County manager Conn Murray says the new Regeneration Plan is 'realistic'
CITY businesses will have millions more to spend next year after councillors rubber-stamped a massive 15.8% rate cut.

CITY businesses will have millions more to spend next year after councillors rubber-stamped a massive 15.8% rate cut.

And there was more good news, when fears that council tenants may have to foot the property tax bill through increased rents did not come to fruition.

This came after councillors agreed to back the cost of the property tax for which they are liable from other sources.

Members unanimously voted to reduce the commercial rate - an annual charge levied on businesses in relation to their property size - from €71.19 per rate of valuation to just €59.91.

This means Limerick has become the cheapest city in which to do business in terms of rates, and for the first time means the commercial rate is the same in both the city and county.

This was made possible following a grant from the Department of the Environment.

Elsewhere, the budget was cut by more than €1m overall.

There was a reduction in the bin waiver scheme, but key programmes such as housing assessment, allocation and transfer and the administration of the homeless persons project are being increased.

Spend is being cut in roads from €10.9m down to €10.3m.

Water services spend is to fall from €13.4m to €12.6m, but this is due to much of this function transferring to Irish Water.

Some €1.2m is being pumped into tourism development, while the street cleaning budget is to fall from €3.6m to €3.5m.

Overall, City Council has €78m allocated to spend in 2014

Councillors hailed manager Conn Murray’s estimates as “historic” and a “budget for jobs.”

Cllr Pat Kennedy said: “I am very proud to be able to stand up and congratulate all those who have assisted with this.

He added previous councillors, including businessman Ted Russell “would be proud.”

Labour’s Joe Leddin added: “I remember when I first came on this council, Limerick was in the unenviable place of having the second highest rates in the country. If councillors agree this decrease, there is a strong possibility the city will be in the lower tier.”

Chairman of the economic committee Diarmuid Scully concurred, saying: “I think it is the best we have seen presented in this chamber, and in any chamber in recent years.”

He warned against shifting money made available from the rates cut to services, pointing out that this caused double-digit increases in the 1990s.

“When the Crescent Shopping Centre was on its knees, we helped it stay open by jacking rates up by 10%,” he said.

While broadly welcoming the rates cut, Cllr Maurice Quinlivan admitted concern at how the low figure would be maintained for the 2015 budget.

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