Waterford seems to be getting the hard end in relation to the forthcoming annual rates review for business in the city.A 5 per cent increase seems extraordinary and is unlikely to be adopted.With an election coming in the new year, this is a strange move by Government to lump a big rates bill on Waterford.The Chamber of Commerce in both Waterford and Dungarvan are getting a reaction from businesses on the issue.
The day of the meeting this past Friday coincided with a shopping day thanks to Black Friday.
Retailers are finding it hard, and also pubs and restaurants. Some are considering letting go staff or closing if the rates goes up and these are not idle points, said one business source to us.
The smaller businesses find it harder and harder to survive, the footfall in Waterford city centre is affected by parking costs too and free parking in other locations away from the city centre.Up in Kilkenny they have also had issues with high rates.We would suggest that the council should send the budget back to the Government over the lack of support to local authorities.A rise in rent is another part of the story for local authority tenants and there are big arrears in rents payable, also as also too for commercial ones.
It all looks a sorry story.The council will need to plead more for help from Government and go back to the Department of Finance on the issue.
The last national Budget was conservative so perhaps there is room for top ups and subventions.There is shock over the difficult in the local authority finances and in this case Government are mainly at fault over the Irish Water debacle of the past few years.
The council must also accept that retail is a tough place to be these days and a 5 per cent jump in rates will mean more problems.Further lobbying is needed so that the rent and rates are not increased from current levels.Getting a grip on some bad debts is another challenge for the council which will eventually have to be tackled.