Cash to be fast-tracked to Laois County Council for Covid -19 lockdown

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Laois County Council finance director says enough cash for Covid-19 lockdown

Laois County Council finance director says enough cash for Covid-19 lockdown

Business rates income to Laois County Council has ground to a halt with the Covid-19 lockdown, but an assurance has been made that there will be no shortage of money to run services and support businesses in the county.

Director of Services for Finance Gerry Murphy has stated that the Government is sending an advance payment of their quarterly funds of €3 million.

He said they may consider writing off rates debts to local businesses.

He was speaking at the monthly meeting of Laois County Council, which was held for the first time ever by phone conference today Monday March 30.

"Over the last number of years we have seen significant income and if you look back at the last recession it took us eight to 10 years to get back online in relation to rates. The current position from a national point of view is there is a rates deferral for three months. 

"In the past we have written off rates where businesses have closed for periods of time. We will be looking at that again. We have many discussions with rate payers in relation to their current difficulties and we won't be found wanting interms of support for them going forward when this is all over," he said.

"Our interest is in working with businesses, keep them open, and that is what we will be doing," he said.

He said their quarterly payment from Government is coming early.

"It's about €3 million each quarter so we are going to get advance payments. And anyway last November the councillors approved an overdraft facility so I don't expect any issue," the Finance Director said.

Mr Murphy was responding to queries from Cllr James Kelly who noted that rates were a "critical source of income", but said businesses especially in hospitality, small retail and childcare must also be supported in their time of need.

Cllr Kelly said other county councillors are having discussions about cashflow and taking out loans to "keep the show on the road".