Offaly Businesses Facing Rates Hike Next Year

Thursday, 17 November 2016

BUSINESSES outside of Tullamore and Birr could be hit with an earlier than expected hike in commercial rates.
The County Council draft budget for 2017 includes a provision to bring forward a harmonisation of rates across Offaly.
This will mean that rates for businesses outside the former urban council districts in Birr and Tullamore will see their annual rate on valuation go up from €63 to €66 while the two main towns will be marginally lower.
The harmonisation is necessary because of the abolition of Tullamore and Birr Town Councils.
Those councils fixed their own commercial rates in their annual budgets but Offaly now has just one rating authority, the County Council.
Harmonisation to a rate of €66 was to be phased in over three years, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
However, in the introduction to this year's draft budget, council chief executive Anna Marie Delaney recommends that the process be brought forward to 2017 because a commercial rate revaluation is currently taking place.
The new valuations will take effect on January 1, 2018. 'As a result of this, regulations preclude us from implementing the third phase of our harmonisation process in 2018. The options we have are to defer it until 2019 or bring the harmonisation process forward to 2017 and effectively do year two and three in 2017,' said Ms Delaney.
She is strongly urging councillors to make the earlier move. 'If we don't take this option, the earliest we can implement the final phase of harmonisation is in 2019. This would mean that we would lose €500,000 of income that scheduled for 2018,' said the chief executive.
'In the context of our current financial situation and having funding to spend on economic and community projects, this would be detrimental.'
The additional €500,000 will be available next year and she proposes that it be 'ring fenced for community and development projects in the county, in particular in the areas that are experiencing the maximum increase in rates due to the
harmonisation process'.
The council chief says disbursement and allocation of the money 'will be
agreed with members'.
The council's budget next year will be €52,454,957 and the net expenditure after income will be €23,769,770.
According to the draft budget, that €23,769,770 will be met by €7,656,288 from Local Property Tax and a fund associated with it, called the Equalisation Fund, and €16,113,482 from commercial rates.


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