TRADERS in Listowel are going to bear the brunt of the property tax bill that will be levied on the council into the future, a local councillor warned this week.
Minister of the Environment and Local Government Phil Hogan has decreed that all local authorities in the State must pay property tax on each of the properties they own. However, with no plans in Listowel to pass this on to council house tenants, the money has to be absorbed by each council. Listowel Town Council will pay €9,000 for the second half of 2013, after the property tax comes into effect in July, prompting one councillor to warn that it will be the town's traders who will bear the brunt of a measure she labelled 'nonsensical'.
"It doesn't make any sense and it will be the ratepayers, who are already struggling hard to keep trading, who will be hit by this as it is they who keep the council going," Fianna Fáil Cllr Maria Gorman warned.
For the immediate future however, the town's rates will remain the same as last year, according to the local budget passed on Monday night.
Meanwhile, locals traders say they are disappointed that the council did not appear to adopt any 'creative' measures to encourage more business in town.
"It's the backbone of the economy and we are disappointed the council hasn't thought more creatively about stimulating more business in Listowel, either through cuts to the rates or through a reduction in development levies," Traders' Association member Kelly Browne said.
Ms Browne told The Kerryman that she knows of a number of individuals in north Kerry who would be prepared to invest in business in Listowel "but they can't while development levies and the rates remain high."
Traders have concerns about the further pressure on rates the property tax represents. "Businesses in Listowel have been very good for paying rates up until now but it is not always going to be like that and the council will have to look at how it can encourage business if it wants a steady rates stream," Ms Browne added.