Businesses in Gorey are paying 37 per cent more in rates to local councils than their rivals in towns such as New Ross. That was the complaint raised by Fianna Fáil's Malcolm Byrne as the council considered the likely effect of abolishing urban authorities next summer.
The town councils in Enniscorthy and New Ross, along with the borough council in Wexford, are set to be amalgamated into Wexford County Council. With one local authority will come one universal rating system, with different consequences for the different areas.
While Cllr Byrne highlighted the fact that Gorey appears to have been paying over the odds, officials accepted that abolition of the Town Council regime in New Ross will mean higher bills for businesses there. Acting county manager Adrian Doyle explained that, under the terms of the amalgamation legislation, the playing field will have to be levelled by the year 2024.
Naturally enough, New Ross representatives were in no hurry, while Gorey man Byrne suggested that the differences could be ironed out as soon as 2015. His district colleague Robbie Ireton felt the charges applied in his area were grossly unfair.
The Labour rep suggested that equality could not be kicked down the road for 10 years and Adrian Doyle accepted that New Ross rates are substantially behind the average. Ross's Michael Sheehan felt that a rates rise of 40 per cent in one year was 'not on', saying that the doomed town council had worked hard to keep business in the town. Malcolm Byrne wondered aloud whether this implied that Gorey ratepayers could expect a 40 per cent drop.
'There is no way people in Wexford will tolerate people in New Ross paying less,' warned Cllr Padge Reck. The last word on the subject came from Cllr Tony Dempsey, who suggested that any decision in the matter should be left to the county councillors chosen in the local elections due to take place next summer.