‘Black Friday’ as businesses hit with 10% rates hike
FUNDS County council to invest money in major capital projects
“Flabbergasted” was how one Cavan retailer reacted to news that Cavan County Council is to increase the cost of the annual rates by 10% for most businesses in the county. The local authority’s decision to increase the rates multiplier by 0.2211 to ensure the “long term economic stability” of the authority was not a choice welcomed by businesses.
“I think it’s absolutely mental,” an irate Padraig Rudden fumed as he considered the increase the council are set to impose on businesses following the balancing of the books for 2022.
At the 2022 Budget meeting in the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cllr Shane P O’Reilly dubbed it a “Black Friday”. This view captured the mood of businesspeople in the county to the news that the cost of doing business will go up.
Among Padraig Rudden’s business interests is a thriving service station in the heart of Cavan Town. “I don’t know where they expect businesspeople to get this extra 10%,” he wondered.
“No business will be able to sustain that. Wages have gone up in the retail sector by 15% in the last eight months. We have to cover people out on Covid by paying overtime to other employees for the last two years.”
The imminent demand for more money does not sit well with Padraig: “We get absolutely nothing for the rates. We also pay a water charge as well, on top of rates. Most people will have seen an increase in the water charges.”
He expressed dismay at the lack of consultation. “We’ve heard nothing about this. They obviously did it behind backs, nobody knew anything about it. This wasn’t flagged, they did not give anyone a chance to say ‘businesses are in trouble already’,” Mr Rudden claimed.
“Why didn’t they levy this on the household charge? They seem to hit the business people all the time, they are the easy target. They won’t hit the general public.” To the east Cootehill retailer John Foy was equally perplexed by the news of a 10% rates hike. “Are they in the real world?” he queried.
“With what is going on with the pandemic, there are increased costs, supply issues, inflation, pressure on wage costs, gas and ESB bills, have we not enough to contend with?” He repeated a theme expressed by Mr Rudden: “Everyone has been affected by Covid. The last thing you want is to see increases in rates. Let’s get through this together and then look at a reasonable rates increase. The 10% increase is completely unreasonable, no business is growing by 10% in the present economic climate.” The Cootehill businessman queried the timing of the hike: “I’m just flabbergasted that they are so out of touch with what is happening in the present day environment for businesses. Businesses are under pressure to hold staff, and get through Covid dealing with huge increases in costs.” Mr Foy said he supports the capital projects the council are investing in, but queried the timing of the increase. “We want to make sure the council can survive, but the projects they are talking about are futuristic,” he said.