Rates shift may be on the cards for Kilkenny in today's budget

Council budget meeting takes place this afternoon

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

High Street, Kilkenny

High Street in Kilkenny: Council may consider rates harmonisation

The ratepayers of County Kilkenny will be keeping a close eye on today's council budget 2018 meeting.

Local councillors will meet with the executive this afternoon to discuss a draft budget, which will set out an estimated expenditure for 2018 of around €74.1 million, compared to €70.2 million in 2017's adopted budget.

However, one item will be of particular interest to commercial ratepayers.

Following the 2014 Local Government Act, which eradicated the borough council, Kilkenny County Council has been required to harmonise rates between the former borough and the rest of the county to achieve one multiplier for all ratepayers in Kilkenny. The borough area has traditionally had a higher ARV than the rest of the county.

The harmonisation process began in 2015, with the council obliged to bring the two ARVs closer together each year. Councillors agreed to adopt a single ARV of 54.9 in the 2015 budget, but there was no change to the effective ARV for either area.

In budget 2017, the ARV for the former county increased to 54.7 and the former borough was reduced to 59.43. Today, it's being proposed that the council finalise the process and harmonise the two ARVs in 2018.

However, in its draft budget, the council says that to reduce the ARV for the former borough area to that of the county for a full year would result in a loss of income of €480,000 for 2018. It has thus proposed to reduce the former borough ARV from next week (December 1, 2017) by 8.674% resulting in a loss of income for 2017 of €40,000. It means the ARV for all accounts will be .96 for December this year.

It's then proposed that from January 1, 2018, all accounts - both in the former borough and county areas - will have an ARV of .2. This will achieve the requirement to harmonise.

"The opportunity is being taken in this budget for 2018 to complete the harmonisation process, which will result in a multiplier of .20 for all ratepayers," says a note in the draft budget.

"The provisional multiplier advised to ratepayers as part of the national revaluation was .21. At .20, the multiplier in Kilkenny is the second-lowest in the country, Westmeath being the only local authority that is lower."

As the national revaluation programme is being implemented in Kilkenny in 2017/18, with the new valuation to take effect next year, the council cannot increase overall income from rates other than by new commercial premises coming in.

The revaluation process, outside the council's control, has resulted in 62% of ratepayers seeing a reduction and 35% seeing an increase.

The budget meeting takes place today at 3pm. For coverage, see next week's Kilkenny People.