Probably every business owner in every town and city in Ireland who is paying commercial rates would say they need a reduction in their rates… and let’s face it, in the current economic climate, every business in the country is looking to reduce their expenditure and unfortunately up to now, rates have not up for a meaningful reduction. Pay it or else! One’s trading climate and economic reality is irrelevant!

Perhaps I could be accused of being biased, but I genuinely believe that businesses in Limerick City are in urgent need of an immediate meaningful reduction in rates. Let’s look at the facts. In the last 11 years, rates in Limerick City have increased by 32% (from 57.45 in 2000 to 76.07 in 2011). Ok granted, this is not the steepest of increases, especially when compared to other rating authorities such as Meath, where during the same period rates increased by almost 75%… Although back in 2000 Limerick City happened to have one of the highest rates in the country so we weren’t exactly starting from the same base!

But where the real urgency for Limerick City arises is when the rate is compared to our counter-parts in the County: City is 26% higher – City is currently 76.07, County is 59.92! Let’s face it, the county is merely a few kilometers out the road from the central ‘core’ of the city … if you were a new business looking to establish in the Limerick region this differential would surely influence your decision on where to locate?

Denis Brosnan and the Limerick Local Government Committee in their report recommended the harmonisation of rates in the City to the County. Businesses that are struggling cannot wait until 2014 and the city cannot wait until 2014 to attract as many new businesses as possible into the city centre.

The question which needs to be asked now is – how long can the City afford to wait for this harmonisation? It is my strong belief that this has to be priority number one for the Implementation Committee now. City Rates need to be reduced immediately by 25%. This is the only way that the playing field can be levelled to allow healthy competition between  the City and the County but also to allow Limerick City, as the capital of the region, to help attract in every possible new business oportunity into the city centre as well as helping to protect the exiting businesses operating in the city centre. The region needs the strongest possible city at it’s core. A meaningful reduction in rates will give a very positive signal that “Limerick City Centre is open for business”.