A proposal from management at City Hall to increase commercial rates in the budget for 2020 remains on the table, despite outright opposition from local businesses.
Sources in Galway City Council have indicated that they will present a draft budget at a meeting in November, which will include a proposal to increase commercial rates.
Last month, Interim Head of Finance at Galway City Council, Nepta Moggan, presented a draft budget to elected members that included a 1.75% hike in commercial rates.
This, she said, would bring in an additional €780,000 over a year, and would cost each ratepayer some €1.53 on average, per week.
Sources at the Council indicated this week that that proposed increase in rates will be included in the draft budget Ms Moggan, and Chief Executive Brendan McGrath, bring forward to the budget meeting in November.
It will be up to the 18 city councillors to put forward an alternative budget – which must be balanced – if they don’t agree with the draft presented to them.
In order to keep rates static – which is what two of the city’s business organisations have called for – councillors will have to find savings or other revenue streams in the budget that amount to €780,000.
“The only thing off the table is an increase in Local Property Tax (LPT), because councillors voted not to increase that. Everything else is on the table, and the draft budget outlined last month during the debate on LPT, which includes an increase in commercial rates, is very much a proposal that the City Council is looking to put forward and believes will be in the best interests of the city,” a source at Galway City Council said.
Galway Chamber and Galway City Business Association (GCBA) both oppose a hike in commercial rates.
Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said it was “unlikely” that commercial rates will increase but ultimately that was a decision for councillors.
“The proposal from the Council to increase commercial rates wasn’t fantasy. That’s what they want to do. It’s in their draft budget. I think it’s unlikely to happen, but it depends on what the Greens do and what the [former] PDs (now Independents) do,” said Cllr Crowe.
The GCBA, which represents between 100 and 150 members in the city centre – from Mainguard Street to Prospect Hill and Forster Street – is opposed to any hike in commercial rates.
GCBA chairman Cormac McGuckian said: “It’s very uncertain times at the moment, and it’s predominantly due to Brexit. An increase in rates would obviously mean additional costs for our members, in an already tough environment, for retail in particular. It’s challenging with an ever-increasing cost base between rates, rents, wages, insurance, they’re all going in the wrong direction and turnover and figures are not matching it.”
GCBA echoes the sentiments of Galway Chamber, which is resisting an increase in rates.
David Hickey, President of Galway Chamber – which represents 400 businesses – said: “Galway Chamber had supported the 3% increase in commercial rates supporting Galway 2020 which is due to expire next year. The Chamber supports the proposed continuance of this 3%, but that the monies be ringfenced to stimulate economic development and enterprise activities. An additional increase of 1.75% cannot be sustained by business and will translate to job losses and increased pressure on already stretched businesses”.
The voting down by elected members last month of a proposal by City Council management to increase LPT by 7.5%, means the draft budget will be short by €620,000 before commercial rates are even taken into account.
Huge reward for ‘dognap’ – as canine companion dies of broken heart
Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most famous dog, Biggy the Irish Wolfhound, has “died of a broken heart” after his Jack Russell best mate was the victim of a suspected ‘dognap’ – which led to the owner putting up a €20,000 reward.
Following a social media campaign which went viral, Biggy was famously reunited with his family 11 days after he went missing in 2013. He was discovered on the motorway outside Athenry.
Nine years later, James Leopold Mechels has erected hundreds of posters all over the city and suburbs in a desperate bid to find the ageing Jack Russell he calls ‘Little One’.
The Belgian native recently increased a reward for the return of his beloved pooch from €1,000 to €20,000. But so far, no credible sightings have been made.
“He’s been missing for 3,288 hours – 137 days, I’m so exhausted, so upset, so anxious. I’ve stopped working to focus all of my effort into finding him. I’ve cycled all over the city, I’ve driven to the horse fair in Ballinasloe,” James told the Galway City Tribune this week.
This is a preview only. To read more of James’ story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
■ Anybody with information is asked to call 087 0650678 or Ark Vets on 091 584185.
Row deepens over Tiny Traders market
Galway City Tribune – The row between the Tiny Traders Village and Galway Arts Centre – the operators of Nuns’ Island Theatre – deepened this week as the Arts Centre announced its intentions to open its own market on the site.
Manager of the Tiny Traders Village, Paul David Murphy, has claimed this was proof that it was always Galway Arts Centre, and its Managing Director, Páraic Breathnach’s, intention to “force” them out, adding that he had felt under constant threat of being shut down.
“It did come as a bit of a shock, but it was something I was expecting,” said Mr Murphy of a post on social media announcing that a new market would open.
“It’s now obvious that they were trying to get rid of us and I can’t believe how transparent they’ve been. Up until this point, there had been a little degree of mystery as to why this happened. It’s sad because the Tiny Traders Village was working really well.”
This comes following a decision by the Tiny Traders to cease trading two weeks ago, citing changes that Galway Arts Centre had requested that Mr Murphy said would have made his business “unviable”.
Speaking to the Galway City Tribune this week, Páraic Breathnach confirmed that they had requested changes – involving layout alterations and clearance – but this had been done due to health and safety concerns.
“There were changes requested to comply with fire regulations, safety and health. They were in relation to the blocking of pathways, the blocking of fire exits, clearance between stalls and the affixing of canopies to a listed building,” said Mr Breathnach.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
Call for Gardaí to confiscate vehicles involved in fly-tipping
Galway City Tribune – confiscation of vehicles – and driver disqualification – have been sought by a Galway TD and a local councillor for those involved in illegal dumping.
According to Independent TD, Noel Grealish and Independent councillor, Noel Larkin, illegal dumping on the east side of Galway City has now reached ‘an all-time high’.
Last week, Deputy Grealish and Cllr Larkin, met with Climate Action and Environment Minister, Richard Bruton, to seek new measures cracking down on those involved in illegal dumping.
“I asked Minister Bruton to introduce legislation that would result in driver disqualification for persons convicted of illegal dumping while using a vehicle. I am also seeking for the introduction of legislation that will give judges the power to order the confiscation of vehicles used for illegal dumping,” said Deputy Grealish.
The Gardaí and Galway City and Council Councils have now been asked to establish an ‘all-county initiative’ to tackle the problem.
This year, Galway City Council was allocated just €50,000 from a €7.4m Government fund to tackle illegal dumping – the lowest figure of any local authority in the country.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage of the illegal dumping issue, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.