Council missing out on millions in rates

Rates...Deputy Anne Rabbitte.

Millions of Euros are dripping through the fingers of Galway County Council annually as it fails to collect all of the money it is owed in commercial rates.

The financially hard-pressed local authority, which has a budget deficit of €3.1 million, is not recouping up to 35% of commercial rates, equating to lost revenue of between €5 million and €9 million every year.

And while that money goes uncollected, at the same time, Chief Executive of the Council, Kevin Kelly, has informed County Councillors he is contemplating increasing the commercial rates paid by businesses in the county by 1%, and by 3% in Ballinasloe, to bring it in line with other towns.

This would help the Council to bridge its budget deficit but could result in additional commercial rates’ bills of between €73 and €290 for most businesses in the county.

Mr Kelly has also asked Councillors to consider maintaining the 10% hike in local property tax, which was burdened on householders in the county this year.

The hike in LPT, imposed in the 2017 Council budget, raked in €1.45million, but added between €31.50 and €47.25 to homeowners’ tax bills.

The rate automatically reverts to its original level, unless Councillors decide to vote to maintain the 10% increase. Mr Kelly, in a briefing to the County Council’s Finance Committee, warned of a revenue loss of €1.45 million if Councillors don’t agree to maintain the controversial increase, which proved unpopular with voters.

But Fianna Fáil has slammed the Council and demanded it steps-up its efforts to collect the unpaid rates, which would ease the load on the majority of businesses who meet their responsibilities.

“You can’t keep going back to the same small and medium businesses; they cannot carry the burden for those in the county who are not paying their share,” said Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.