Wexford Fianna Fáil General Election candidate Cllr Malcolm Byrne has called upon the government to urgently reform the system for valuation of local commercial premises as it was revealed that a recent revaluation by the Valuation Office will cost local Councils almost €22m in lost revenue in 2016.
Councillor Byrne explained, “Recently, the Valuation Commissioners revalued the properties owned by public utilities, such as the ESB, An Post and Eir as well as telecom providers such as Vodafone and 3, for the purposes of paying commercial rates in each Local Authority. The revaluations were notified to local authorities in some cases where the authorities had already decided on their 2016 budgets.
“It beggars belief that the local rates for these major organisations will be substantially reduced on the basis of the Commission’s decision to revalue their properties – while at the same time leaving a yawning €22 million deficit in the Budgets of local authorities – while Property Rate Valuations for small and struggling commercial businesses continue to be based on inflated pre-crash property values.
Cllr Byrne pointed out that Wexford County Council will potentially lose about €600,000 as a result of this decision.
“It is clear that the current system of Valuations is discriminating against small businesses. Many struggling businesses have been stuck with a valuation undertaken during the boom years, when property prices were at their highest, and have been struggling to pay these inflated commercial rates ever since.
“The system of State Valuations in this country is unwieldy and does not take account of commercial reality. It desperately needs to be reformed to ensure more regular and fairer valuations are undertaken in each area. At present the rolling area-by-area revaluations are often not undertaken for up to ten years. As a consequence, on-the-ground valuations of commercial properties bear no relation to reality.
“By contrast, the so-called ‘global valuation’ of public utilities is undertaken every five years, despite the fact that these semi-state companies do not have to contend with the commercial realities that local businesses do.
“It is clear that the Valuations Office is not up to the task and is not fit for purpose. For many years now, I have been calling for the valuations process to be outsourced to ensure that commercial rates are undertaken at much more regular intervals and to ensure they are properly grounded in local business realities. I also believe that the valuation system should make much more use of self-assessment by business owners. Greater use of self-assessment would enhance efficiency and make use of SMEs much more intimate knowledge of the local business circumstances, which would inform decisions over market rents for commercial properties,” said Cllr Byrne.