Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Council rates to be cut as reform leads to savings - Independent.ie

STRUGGLING Irish retailers can expect cuts in commercial rates of up to 5pc next year as multi-million-euro savings from local government reforms are delivered.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said that council mergers and abolitions will go ahead to deliver greater cost-efficiency and value for money for taxpayers.

His vow came despite several town councils putting funds aside for a potential legal challenge to their abolition.

"There has been a total change in the way local government is to be run. In Limerick, for instance, we have merged (the) city and county councils. There are huge benefits to the public when you reduce the cost base by doing things like that," Mr Noonan told the Irish Independent.

"For instance, the commercial rate in Limerick has been cut by 5pc – it is the biggest cut in the country. It just would not be possible to do that if we hadn't put the two local authorities together."

Mr Noonan said the benefits for the taxpayer and retailers will be apparent from next year.

"I think that there will be more cuts in the commercial rate next year because the full savings have not yet been realised. There are a whole series of organisations around the country which are being merged to make them more efficient and more cost-effective."

Under the 'Putting People First' initiative, Environment Minister Phil Hogan plans to achieve cost savings of €420m through the abolition of town councils and mergers of other councils.

- Ralph Riegel

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