Coronavirus: Rates change stopped for all Dún Laoghaire businesses

Value of all businesses in south-east Dublin for decade was due to be set in September

Rates for businesses in Dún Laoghaire and south-east Dublin had been due for review. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Rates for businesses in Dún Laoghaire and south-east Dublin had been due for review. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A decision on the level of rates every business in Dún Laoghaire and across south-east Dublin will pay for the next decade has been postponed until next year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy, and the Valuations Office have agreed to stop the revaluation of all commercial and industrial property across the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council area, due to be completed by September.

This means thousands of businesses, from local shops and supermarkets in Dún Laoghaire town, to fashion stores in Dundrum Shopping Centre, or large warehouse premises in the Sandyford industrial estate, will not be valued based on this year’s property and trading conditions.

Fine Gael senator Barry Ward said any valuations made in the current circumstances would be open to challenge and would be likely to leave the county council “badly out of pocket”.

The rates paid to local authorities by businesses are based on the assessments made by the Valuation Office of the worth of each commercial property in the State.

These figures are then multiplied by a rate set by each local authority every year in its annual budget, and a bill is then sent to each business.

Under law, the businesses in each local authority must be revalued every 10 years.

However, this process is staggered and Dún Laoghaire was the only local authority facing revaluation this year.

The revaluation process is “revenue neutral”, meaning the recalculation of the value of a premises will not bring in any extra cash for the council, but is designed to result in a fairer distribution of the burden of rates.

Appeals

However, business owners who feel their valuation was unfairly calculated can appeal to the valuation office for a reduction, and if successful, this does reduce their rates for the next decade, resulting in a loss to the council.

Such appeals would have been extremely likely in the current circumstances Mr Ward said.

“After the last revaluation in 2010 the council lost out badly because there were so many appeals from businesses hit by the financial crash. The position would be even worse this time out given the current circumstances.”

Continuing with the revaluation would not have helped businesses that would have had to shoulder the burden of appeal costs at a time of lost revenues, Mr Ward said.

“This is an important concession because it protects both commercial rate-payers against fluctuations in their commercial rates, and the council from the potential loss of revenue that resulted from the last revaluation in 2010.”

Chief executive of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber of Commerce Gabby Mallon said the decision removed one element of uncertainty for hard-pressed businesses.

“This is great news in these very challenging times for everybody. Rates might have gone down, but the idea that they could go up would send out the wrong signal at this time.”

Six other local authorities – Clare, Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Mayo county councils and Galway City Council – which had been facing revaluations next year are also set to have the process stopped.

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