The Cashel Chamber of Commerce has expressed it’s disappointment that the Cashel Town budget has been passed once again by the council and councillors without any reduction in rates to businesses for a fourth year.
This freezing of rates in combination with the higher rate VAT Increase, changes to the Redundancy and Insolvency schemes, changes to Capital Gains Tax, increases in Motor Tax and Carbon Taxes the Government are squeezing small to medium sized businesses out of existence, according to Mike Ryan, President of the Cashel Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Ryan said: “Businesses in Cashel are now estimated to be the single biggest source of income in 2011 for the Town Council at €E706,280 (27%) which is an increase of €63,343 (6.7% of an increase on the €E642,937 commercial rate income from 2010).
“Businesses are now subsidising to a large extent all the essential services provided by the local authority as a result of the further reductions in central government funding which was expected to be another 5% reduction but unfortunately turned out to be 8.9%.”
The Cashel Chamber of Commerce submitted a proposal to Phil Hogan, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, on July 15, detailing the difficulties local businesses in Cashel and surrounding areas are having in the present economic climate, but no response was received. “Retailers and businesses in other sectors have seen their revenue decline on a continuous basis up to 40% in some areas over the past few years,” said Mr Ryan. “Businesses have cut costs in every area including reducing employees’ pay, foregoing wages themselves and indeed letting staff go which has a massive negative impact on the general and local economy.”
He said that the biggest fixed cost is commercial rates, which businesses have no control over, and freezing rates over the past few years at the highest level of the economic boom has further increased pressure on these businesses.
“Now with consumer confidence being hit further with the increase on the higher rate of VAT and further charges being imposed on people like the household and septic tank charges, disposal income is dwindeling fast.”
The Chamber feels that this Government has abandoned the business that drive the economy and Minister Noonan’s claim that the recent budget is a “Jobs Budget” is laughable. “How can the Minister or his colleagues in the Dail have the cheek to call the budget good for jobs?” asked Mike Ryan “There is no incentive for any business to stay in business or employ people or for new businesses to start up, the tax exemption for new start up businesses for three years is welcome but where will these businesses source financing? The banks are not lending to the degree needed.
“We felt our proposals were fair and reasonable with commercial rate reductions phased over a three year period which works out on average 6.8% per annum, resulting in a total reduction over the three years of 20.4%,” stated the Chamber President. “Many good people will continue to lose their businesses and jobs in the private sector throughout 2012 and we called on the Minister to take a look at pulling savings for business from these three areas: increased local government funding from central government, reduction in local representation and reduction in local authority costs, but he had not the courtesy to even respond,” Mr Ryan continued.
“When in opposition, the government was full of condemnation for the then government on the jobs front but they have simply taken over where they left off and I find it humorous to read back over the promises made before the election.”
Mr Ryan then confirmed that he has been in contact with Tom Hayes and has received an email stating that he will be taking the matter up with his colleagues in the Town Council. “I do not see the point of discussing the matter with the town councillors when the problem and solution lies with the government at national level,” Mr Ryan said. “Tom should be taking the fight to his friends in government, Phil Hogan regarding commercial rates and funding of local authorities and Richard Bruton regarding jobs, but I for one will not be holding my breath.”
Mr Ryan met with Marie McGivern, Cashel Town Council Clerk, last Friday to review the budget. He said it was a good meeting but unfortunately the budget is already passed for 2012.
“We have agreed to meet regularly throughout 2012 to review the income/expenditure on a monthly basis to identify savings and to form a coherent plan in the future with more input from the Chamber of Commerce regarding budgets.”
The Chamber is calling on the Government to revise the valuation process on properties and become more pro-active on the commercial rates issue front. “Fingal Council has reduced its commercial rates by 2% for the third year running,” stated Mr Ryan, “Yet other councils have remained static, so greater communication between councils is needed to help and advise each other on what is needed to reduce rates through greater efficiencies and savings.”