Carrick-on-Suir’s businesses could face a significant hike in their commercial rate after the local town council is abolished and Tipperary’s two county councils are unified next year.
That was the prospect raised at a recent Town Council meeting where Council management came under pressure to cut the commercial rate it charges the town’s business community in its last ever annual budget to mitigate the impact of future rate hikes on the way.
The issue arose when FG Cllr Margaret Croke tabled a motion requesting the Council to reduce commercial rates by 10% in its 2014 budget to help local businesses “on their knees”.
Supporting the motion, FF Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan said Carrick had one of the lowest commercial rates but rates were extremely high in the north of the county. She explained there will be equalisation of commercial rates across the county when north and south county councils are amalgamated and warned this could lead to Carrick’s commercial rate increasing by 13%. She feared local businesses wouldn’t be able to sustain such a hike.
By cutting the commercial rate, she argued the impact of the equalisation increase wouldn’t be as bad on local firms.
Mayor of Carrick Cllr Kieran Bourke wondered if a 10% cut was enough and should the Council instead opt for a 20% reduction. Town Clerk Michael O’Brien said the motion would be considered as part of the Council’s budget preparations. He explained the Council will be fixing a 12 month budget for 2014 but it won’t be in force for the full year.
He reminded councillors that Carrick had the country’s second lowest commercial rate in the country and it wasn’t increased in the lifetime of the current Council. Taking inflation into account, this meant the commercial rate had effectively fallen in the past few years.
Mr O’Brien said you couldn’t pay for all the Council’s services by significantly reducing its income.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan responded that this will be the last chance the Council has to introduce a rates reduction and urged management to “do something radical” in the Council’s final six months.