Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called for a complete reform of the current system of collecting commercial rates.  It comes after it emerged that Galway County Council has only collected between 65%-80% of its commercial rate take over the past three years, while at the same time, is running a €3m budget deficit.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “Over the past number of years we have seen significant failures by the Council to collect all available commercial rates.  If there was full compliance, Galway County Council would have access to additional revenue of between €5m and €9m.  This would eliminate the current budget deficit and would even leave money in the pot for essential projects.

“Galway County Council is one of many local authorities which have been experiencing difficulties with cash collections and debt management as a result of economic, staffing and resource pressures.  This has been further exacerbated by a series of Government funding cuts, including a 9% reduction in local authority budgets in 2017.

“Councils need to be able to come to a resolution that allows businesses that are struggling to pay their rates bills some relief. Fianna Fáil has long pushed for ability to pay waivers to be introduced, which would give businesses experiencing a bad year a break. But this is currently not allowed by Central Government.

“What we need is an overhaul of the current system.  I believe that the Revenue Commissioners should be given responsibility for collecting commercial rates – this would ensure greater consistency and would create a more level playing field for businesses.  The centralised system could also be used to apply a more uniform waiver system.

“Calls for increases in commercial rates and property tax could be mitigated if the current rates were collected in full.  Revenue provides a viable solution and I would encourage Minister Murphy to give serious consideration to the idea”.