Commercial rates will rise by four per cent next year, but there will be no increase in 2021 - after Mayo County Council's budget for 2020 was passed this week.
The annual budget meeting of the local authority reconvened on Monday afternoon and the budget was passed, with a number of amendments proposed by Fianna Fáil whip Cllr Damien Ryan and seconded by Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, with no counter proposal put forward by the Fine Gael side of the house.
Opposition members in the chamber did variously object to having the budget amendments put to a vote - without them being given a copy of the amendments being proposed by the Fianna Fáil and Independent coalition that control the council.
Fine Gael whip in the chamber, Cllr Peter Flynn, asked for a short adjournment to the meeting and for the amendments to be circulated to him and his colleagues to study. However, he was over-ruled by the Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, who told the meeting that a proposal had been put forward and unless there was a counter proposal, it would be voted on.
The Cathaoirleach did suggest that if there was a counter proposal that he would adjourn and both sides could share their proposals with each other - but with no counter proposal coming forward and the motion proposed and seconded, it was passed in the chamber.
Earlier this year the elected members had refused to back a recommendation from the council executive to raise the Local Property Tax by 15 per cent - this led to warnings that there would be funding shortfalls potentially in the budget from the executive.
In the draft budget it was proposed by the council executive to increase the commercial rates by three per cent, but also to cut the councillors General Municipal Allocation (GMA ) - the fund that councillors use to distribute money to community and voluntary groups in their area.
The amendments to the draft budget included: scrapping the proposal of the executive to cut the GMA in half and maintain it at the 2019 level of €1,050,000 and keep it at that level for the following year also; increasing the council expected income from rents by €75,000, from the non principal primary residence tax by €75,000 and the property entry level income by €125,000; a number of cuts in expenditure reducing the loan charges and public lighting by €130,000, EPA charges by €99,000 and a reduction in pensions and gratuities by €210,000. There was also an amendment to increase the small business support scheme, which gives a discount on commercial rates to some small businesses, costing an extra €25,000 - the scheme supports applicants that occupy a rated commercial property within Mayo that has a rateable valuation of €125.00 or less.