Sports clubs should not be treated as ratepayers
It emerged on Monday night at the monthly meeting of Louth County Board in Darver that both Cooley Kickhams and St. Patrick's have received rates bills from Louth County Council running into thousands of euro.
The two clubs are not alone and several other sports clubs in the GAA and beyond will have or about to receive rates bills from Louth County Council which result from a change in legislation last September, which exempted from valuation and rates those parts of a club's premises used for sport but not buildings or part of buildings used for the sale of alcohol or the generation of income other than club membership fees.
Many GAA and sports clubs have bars, function rooms and astro-turf pitches which now have resulted in them being exposed to these high rates.
Clearly some level of rates should apply for the clubs will be competing to some degree against neigbhouring private bars or function rooms who are liable for rates, but if these rates are to be paid they will fall on club members and the local community to pay one way or another.
It is not right that sports clubs and community groups should be charged commercial rates in this manner and the government really need to take another look at this, taking into consideration a bigger picture and the contribution these clubs play in our society and local communities.
The government may know the price of square footage according to a rates valuation but they clearly don't know the value of our clubs and not everything can be or should be measured in euro and cents.