Westmeath Fianna Fáil Councillors, have rejected a proposal to increase commercial rates by 2.2 percent throughout County Westmeath. Councillors adopted the annual budget for 2019 at their local authority meeting and despite initial Fine Gael support for an increase in rates, passed the budget with a commitment to no increase.
The Councillors indicated from the outset that they would refuse to support any increase to commercial rates and criticised the Fine Gael group for supporting what would be further financial burden on struggling business owners in the county. Councillors backed more innovative and progressive options for business owners such as the ‘Shopfront Enhancement Scheme,’ which will support businesses in undertaking any works on their premises.
According to Longford/Westmeath representative, Deputy Robert Troy, the Fianna Fáil Party has been pressing for reform of the commercial rate system and has brought forward the Valuation (Amendment Bill ) to address the very serious problems being experienced by small and medium businesses.
“This would provide certainty to commercial rate payers by creating a limit on the maximum variation of commercial rates. There is still a serious problem with commercial rates and Westmeath Fianna Fáil Councillors rightly rejected attempts to increase in rates within the county.
“The Government is failing to recognise that for all their talk of a boom and a recovery, there are parts of Westmeath where small and medium businesses have been totally wiped out and are still on their knees. They are not feeling any recovery and cannot withstand any increases in commercial rates,” Deputy Troy emphasised.