Rates hike to hit Laois businesses in January

Rates hike to hit Laois businesses in January
By Lynda Kiernan Lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress@laoisnews

Councillors have voted to increase commercial rates for Laois businesses, hitting them with an extra €370,000 in charges in 2017.

Fianna Fáil joined Fine Gael at the council's annual budget meeting in voting for a 3 percent increase in rates to ensure county hall balanced its books.

Councillors were warned in advance that rates would have to rise.

"Put simply unless Laois County Council can identify a new stream of funding or increase revenue from an existing income stream it will not be possible to present a balanced Revenue Budget for 2017,”said chief executuve John Mulholland.

The increase was passed by 11 votes to 6, but there were angry words from those opposing, Sinn Féin, Labour and Independens.

Cllr Brendan Phelan led the opposing vote.

“We don't know the finalcial implications of this. The largest ratepayers will be caught. I propose that we defer any increase for a year, we have to take into account the implications of Brexit and the US, consumer spending has dipped, we are sending out all the wrong messages,” he said.

The vote was however passed, and Mr Mulholland said it would not be felt by over 80 percent of Laois businesses, who are liable to pay under €8,500 a year.

“Out of the 1,700 odd ratepayers, the increase affects about 240 of them,” he said.

It is the first year rates will rise here since 2008. Laois businesses and public pay the least in rates and property tax out of all other counties.

The rise is the culmination of years of austerity and cuts to council spending.

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