Local business owners are being encouraged to engage with the Valuation Office over proposed changes to commercial rates, which caused controversy last week.
Business owners across counties Westmeath, Roscommon, and Longford received a letter from the Valuation Office early last week, setting out the new Proposed Valuation on their premises. However, it appears that the rates, which will apply from January 1 next year, are likely to rise for many businesses.
Senator Gabrielle McFadden (FG ) is urging businesses to carefully review their Proposed Valuation and if necessary to appeal them.
“Once your certificate is issued, you have 40 days to make an appeal to the Valuations Office. So in the case of Westmeath, the closing date is February 21,” she said.
“As someone who has been involved in business myself, I am acutely aware that business, and especially small business, is the heartbeat of our towns and villages and we must ensure that they are all treated fairly.”
In order to help people understand the process, Valuation Office staff will be available in Athlone Civic Centre next Monday and Tuesday, January 30 and 31, from 9am-5pm, to assist any business owner who wishes to discuss their assessment.
Deputy Peter Burke (FG ) says many people are concerned about the affordability of the new rates.
“There are businesses currently struggling to keep their heads above water and increased rates would leave them little option but to close... At a time when Live Register figures are at an eight-year low, we cannot start losing jobs again.
Deputy Robert Troy (FF ) said local businesses were facing rates increases of up to 400 per cent, and that the process should be halted until the concerns of local businesses are taken on board.
“These are businesses which are already struggling to stay afloat. It’s ridiculous to see the Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys outline a plan for kick-starting the economy in rural Ireland when they are overseeing a massive increase in commercial rates.
“I firmly believe that we need to see reform of the commercial rates system. The current system places too much emphasis on the perceived value of the business without taking into account the ability of the business to actually pay the rates.”
And Deputy Willie Penrose (Lab ) said the new “exorbitant” rates would hinder rural Ireland.
“The Government made a clear commitment in the Programme for Government to advance economic development in rural Ireland and ensure that no town or village is left behind. And yet these proposed valuation certs are completely theoretical, desk-bound assessments which will wipe out and damage businesses and shops in rural villages and towns.”