At November’s meeting of Cashel Town council, Cllr PJ Quinlan presented a motion asking the council that in advance of the estimates meeting the Manager give serious consideration to reducing commercial rates in Cashel Town by 20%.
While the majority of councillors saw merit in reducing rates some did have reservations, as they felt the council could not afford such an action.
Cllr Quinlan put forward the argument that commercial rates are an annual property tax levied by Cashel Town Council on the occupier of commercial and industrial property; the council will levy a commercial rate on the basis of a valuation provided from the valuation office in Dublin. This outdated tax collecting system should be completely overhauled as we have a situation that since 2007 turnover has dropped by 60% in a majority of businesses, and some have seen profits wiped out and are asked to pay a tax which was based on high valuations which may have been acceptable in 2006. “A reduction of 20% is realistic as small shops struggle to keep theirs door open, and as a town councillor he is aware of businesses that have closed their doors and have cited high rates and rent as a contributory factor to their closure” said Cllr Quinlan
Cllr Quinlan has written to Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan asking to overhaul the present system. In his correspondence to him he also pointed out that land rates were disbanded in 1977 as they were deemed an unjust and an inequitable system of collecting tax.
In recent weeks the Cashel Town Council has endorsed a system whereby new businesses setting up on Main Street will get 75% of commercial rates refunded in first year of trading and 50% in second year of trading as we are concerned about the number of vacant premises in the town centre. This is a very important and welcome development and shows the determination and vision of the Town Council.
Cllr Quinlan is now asking his fellow councillors to vote for a reduction of 20% in commercial rates and show solidarity with a lot of beleaguered rate payers. This action may slow the haemorrhaging of business closure, and he is requesting a meeting with the Town Manager, Town Clerk and Mayor Woods to look for greater efficiency and maybe bring down overheads rather than putting the burden on local shops. Cllr Quinlan feels for businesses who are hanging by a tread to keep their premises open. He and Cllr Eoghan Lawerence are committed to helping as many small businesses as possible to get through this recession.
Cashel Town has seen positives this year with the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Rock of Cashel and we have seen a healthy increase in visitors coming to Cashel. The Rock of Cashel remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.