Farmers and government departments should pay rates -- SFA
IRISH farmers and government departments should pay commercial rates along with all other traders, the SFA said.
The Small Firms Association claimed that such a move would help relieve the pressure on a dwindling pool of city and town businesses, many of whom are still being forced to pay boom-era amounts.
"Farming is a business like any other and at the moment and unlike many city-and-town- based retail operations, it's doing quite well.
"Therefore it's only fair that farmers should also pay commercial rates and bear their fair share of infrastructure and service costs," said SFA director Patricia Callan.
"In addition, large government buildings, which often take up large amounts of space in key cities and towns, also avail of local infrastructure with the simple difference that they don't pay a penny."
The SFA believes Ireland's rates system is in need of a total overall given that premises are only re-evalued about every ten years for the purposes of estimating their rates bill.
As a result, most traders, who are often barely hanging on, are being forced to pay rates at boom-era building valuations -- from a period when property values increased at double the rate of inflation.
"We need a proper site-evaluation model to be put in place to eliminate the inequality that now exists."
In 2010, the local government fund allocation fell by almost 4pc, compared to 2009. At the same time demands for local authority expenditure has increased substantially.
To bridge the shortfall in finances, substantial increases in commercial rates, water and user charges have been applied and the SFA indicates that a waste-licence fee has increased from €1,200 to €4,000, without any apparent explanation.