Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has criticised the rates increase of 2.5% which will hit small and medium enterprises, and questioned the legal and administrative basis for a proposed rebate scheme.
“Sinn Féin councillors were alone in their opposition to the rates increases, which will impact on small and medium enterprises across Waterford City and County.
“The other parties and independents were unanimous in supporting a 2.5% rates increase in order to fill the hole caused by the Government’s €14.5 million net cut to Waterford’s finances.
“In the run up to this budget Sinn Féin had engaged with business groups and rate payers. Its clear there is little scope for small and medium enterprises to take a hit on rates, and this is especially true of the retail sector. Some councillors suggested that SMEs had enjoyed a free ride on rates over recent years. This isn’t the reality on the ground, and businesses in Dungarvan and West Waterford did not benefit from the amalgamation of the City and County in 2014.
“SMEs form the backbone of Ireland’s economy and provide local, dependable and quality employment. Hitting small and family-run businesses is not fair and its not sustainable. Increasing rates with no commensurate increase in service or support for businesses is not acceptable.
“Much has been made of a proposed rebate scheme however it remains to be seen if this will be workable or even legal. Earlier this month I met with Minister John Paul Phelan as part of a cross-party delegation and said that regulations had yet to be published that would enable such a rebate.
“Unfortunately the Council rolled-over and accepted the Government cut. Next year, when the General Election is out of the way, businesses will once again be in the firing line on rates. Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for the people we represent and to advocate for SMEs.”