New development levies could discourage Laois farmers from improving their facilities, prompting Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley to call for changes to the new scheme to encourage development throughout the county.
In a submission on the proposed new Development Levies Scheme of charges for 2017 to 2023, Sinn Fein have outlined a number of changes they feel are needed.
“Our submission provides for a fairer system of charges, while at the same time allows Laois County Council to collect sufficient revenue to provide the necessary infrastructure and facilities and to maintain and repair what is already there,” said Deputy Stanley.
He said that regarding residential properties, modest homes cannot have the same charge on them as mansions. In the case of urban homes, the current scheme provides for a €6,400 charge regardless of size.
“We are proposing that homes up to 200 square meters floor area would be €4,000, each square meter over this up to 300 square meters would be an additional €20 per square meter and €27 per square meter in excess of this,” he said.
For rural dwellings, the current scheme is €4,400 up to 200 square meters and an additional €27 per square meter in excess of this size. Deputy Stanley proposes that this should be changed to €2,000 up to 200 square meters floor area, an additional €20 per square meter between 200 and 300 square meters and every square meter over this would be €27.
Regarding farmhouses, he said what is been proposed by council staff for agricultural buildings will discourage small and medium sized farmers in Laois from improving facilities.
“The current scheme allows for no charge on farm buildings up to 500 square meters and each square meter over this has a €3 charge. What is proposed in the draft scheme is that sheds up to 200 sq m would be exempt and that each square meter over this would be €5. Sinn Féin is proposing that farm buildings up to 400 sq m would be exempt and that in excess of this would be €4 per square meter,” said Deputy Stanley.
For industrial and commercial, he said the current charge of €15 per square meter is excessive as it can put an unfair burden on businesses.
“Therefore we propose that this be reduced to €10 per square meter,” he said.
“The changes we propose are fair and reasonable and we hope they will receive support. They would facilitate further economic development in Laois by not putting an unsustainable burden on modest size homes, farms or commercial operations that have low profit margins.”