independent

Thursday 21 August 2014

Council get tough on rates arrears

Kevin Hughes

Published 13/11/2013 | 05:36

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KILLARNEY Town Council has escalated its efforts to recover outstanding Rates payments and 26 businesses currently face legal action in the district court.

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KILLARNEY Town Council has escalated its efforts to recover outstanding Rates payments and 26 businesses currently face legal action in the district court.

The tough stance follows what the council considers to be two consecutive years of "very good" trading and at last week's Killarney District Court outstanding bills ranged from €2,000 to over €90,000.

Town Clerk Michael O'Leary said that arrears totalling €368,000 were being pursued in the courts but added that the action was a last resort as it is council policy to try to come to arrangements with businesses in particular difficulties.

"Using the courts isn't a departure from the norm and we would take into consideration the level of engagement, what is being offered and the extent of the arrears," Mr O'Leary said.

"But we have evidence that the tide has turned with respect to trading and there have been two very good years, so many businesses should be in a position to pay. We do understand that there are still difficulties and it hasn't improved for everyone and we have entered into arrangements with certain businesses. We are very amenable to practical arrangements with respect to regularising those positions," he added.

The court action follows a warning by Town Manager John Breen in his annual budget report for 2013 in which he states that there is a clear distinction between those businesses who have genuine trading difficulties and those apparently unwilling to pay.

"The latter businesses, in the interest of fairness and consistency, will be pursued through the appropriate channels available to the local authority," Mr Breen said.

While the number of businesses appearing in the courts is understood to have doubled this year, the figure being pursued marks one tenth of the total rates arrears last year in Killarney.

Considered 'bad debts', that figure stood at €3.7m, although approximately €1m of this is deemed non-collectable due to vacancy levels and other factors. Rates collected by Killarney Town Council in 2012 amounted to €7.8m.

Kerryman

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