By Kieran O’Mahony
A WEST Cork councillor has called on Cork County Council to implement a rate rebate for rural pubs, which are struggling to survive in some areas.
Skibbereen-based Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) was responding to the Rate Collection Report at a meeting of Cork County Council this week, which showed that €120m was collected in rates last year, a figure up €10m from 2014.
Cllr Carroll said that a lot of publicans in small villages can’t survive due to the high cost of rates.
‘I’m asking the Council to do something to keep them alive as they’re the soul of many villages across the county,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), himself a publican in Bantry, said a lot of publicans are struggling to survive.
Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG) agreed with Cllr Carroll’s comments and said a lot of rural pubs are suffering.
‘It’s alarming the number of rural pubs that have closed in the last six months and I think they should be in a special category in relation to rates,’ said Cllr Hegarty.
Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey said that the council has very flexible payment arrangements in place for businesses, which many avail of.
‘We will never put out a business for the non-payment of rates and 70% of our ratepayers pay less than €3,000 per annum. If any business is in trouble, then they need to come and let us know,’ said Mr Lucey.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said it was very unfair that businesses in the Bandon Town Council area had been paying more than those in Kinsale and she said businesses are struggling.
Tim Lucey said the current county rates are frozen until 2021 when rates will then be harmonised throughout the county.
This was the first full year that Cork County Council was responsible for the levying and collection of rates since the abolition of the county’s nine town councils in 2014.
Roisín O’Sullivan, head of finance, said the collection performance for the year was very satisfactory. She cited a recovering economic environment together with better access to credit resulted in more engagement with ratepayers. However legal action was required in 267 cases last year with 94 judgments obtained and the council had to write off €12.52m which hadn’t been recovered.
‘It was significant and satisfactory year for the level of collection and the economic conditions would have increased in 2015 over previous years,’ said Ms O’Sullivan.