11 November 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Sinn Féin County Councillor Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has hit out at the Government for allowing a substantial hit to the Budgets of Local Authorities, due to the significant downward valuation of utilities, including many private and profitable companies. This has had the effect of reducing the contribution by companies such as Vodafone, Meteor, 3Ireland, BT Ireland, Eircom and ESB to the tune of €21m.
This meant a loss of €1,852,000 in rates to Cork County Council, and €1,526,000 to Cork City Council.
Councillor Ó Laoghaire said;
“This is an extraordinary situation, that the valuations office, when many small businesses are struggling, would decide to gift a massive cut in rates, to some of the largest utilities and companies. I understand the cuts vary between 20-40%, which is enormous.”
“This could have been used to put in to services, in terms of Housing, Business supports, Tourism, funding. This cut in revenue is twice as large as the County Councils entire Tourism Budget.”
“Corks two Councils are down a combined €3,378,000 due to this decision.”
“Some of these companies are immensely profitable. Vodafone has a pre tax profit of €100m last year. I believe that many small business owners, who are used to seeing upwards valuations, would be deeply frustrated to see much larger businesses getting such a generous rates cut.
“This Government, as with the last, raided Local Government time and time again, which meant Housing, Roads, Footpaths, and so on, all suffered. Now, the valuations office is coming back for more, despite how profitable these companies are.”
“The Minister and the Valuation need to make clear on what basis this was given.”
“It furthermore hugely underlines the need to reform totally the archaic, 19th Century Rating system. Rates should take more account of Profit, not square footage.”
Cllr Ó Laoghaire was also critical of Council management for failing to highlight this information during the recent budget process.
“Council management, which drafts the Budget and has the supporting statistical information, had ample opportunities, during several meetings, to flag this issue up, and to put a line in the Budget bringing attention to the size of the loss. I am unclear as to why they did not.”
“It is deeply disappointing that they did not, as it meant Councillors did not have the full picture as regards our Rates income.”