The CEO of Galway County Council may have dropped the bombshell to councillors that a number of utility companies in the county are getting a rates write down, due to the value of their properties dropping, but it has been made cystal clear that there will be no rates reduction for any other struggling business in the county.
The comments made by Kevin Kelly were in reply to a motion set down by Oranmore Athenry councillor Martina Kinnane in September, asking the county council to consider a rates rebate to businesses that were adversely impacted by road or water works in their area. The motion proposed that the council generate a "commercial rates credit scheme to support business owners and occupiers that are financially impacted by infrastructure works/ road works carried out in their area that take more than two weeks."
Cllr Kinnane was referring to the ongoing water upgrade works in Oranmore which led to the village being blocked off for a number of weeks.
At this week's local authority meeting, Kevin Kelly outlined in straight talking terms that the council simply could not afford to give a rates reduction to any business. "If we are getting into a situation where we are going to lose income every time we do work in a town, we are completly changing the cost-benefit analysis of that project. Works being carried out in an area are for the long term betterment of that area."
Independent councillor Timmy Broderick said he took umbrage with the idea of works being for the betterment of an area. "There are businesses in Ballinasloe that are now on the brink of closure due to the disruption caused by work being carried out by Irish Water. The businesses are up in arms due to Irish Water's refusal to engage with them. We are codding ourselves here, these traders are the ones that pay rates to the council. If they close, it is another reduction in our income."