A county councillor who is standing in next year’s General Election says that local businesses are being squeezed and local amenities are being neglected as a result of a decision by the Valuation Commissioners to reduce rates for properties owned by public utilities.
Cllr Ann Rabbitte says that small businesses in Galway are having to fork out for huge rates bills, while these large companies are seeing theirs reduced, a move which she says threatens the existence of the lifeblood of towns around Galway that are trying to rebuild after coming through the recession.
“This is a ridiculous situation, which threatens the future of small businesses right across Galway. Towns like Gort, Loughrea, Portumna, Tuam, Athenry and Ballinasloe have come through the recession and are beginning to rebuild, but flawed policies, like the one governing the rates system, are hampering that progress,” she said, adding that rates and upward only rents are two of the biggest problems facing small and medium sized businesses in Galway.
“Why are the smaller businesses expected to pay more than these big utility companies? These small businesses are the lifeblood of the local community. They are owned and run by local families, and provide essential goods and services.
“Their livelihoods are being threatened and community amenities are being ignored because the large utility companies are paying reduced rates. Road improvements, public lighting and children’s playground projects are all suffering because these big organisations are not being made to pay their fair share,” she said.