Updated: 21/02/17 : 05:08:05
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Council losing out on hundreds of thousands - Bree

Potential income amounting to hundreds of thousands of euro has been lost to Sligo County Council because of the failure of the Council management to have new commercial properties valued for rates purposes, that's according to Cllr Declan Bree.

The Independent councillor spoke at yesterday's meeting of the Sligo Municipal District Committee.

Cllr Bree told his followers on Twitter and Facebook, "At today's meeting of the Sligo Municipal District Committee of the Council I referred to the contents of recent correspondence which the Council received from Mr Paul Lemass, the Assistant General Secretary of the Department of Local Government.

"I said I was shocked to learn from the correspondence that potential income amounting to hundreds of thousands of euro has been lost to Sligo County Council because of the failure of the Council management to have a number of new commercial wind farms valued for rateable purposes.

In his correspondence Mr Lemass said, “It appears that the windfarms in question have been in operation for several years, but have not been brought to the attention of the Valuation Office by Sligo County Council.” He said the Department estimated that the two windfarms would yield approximately €115,000 per year in additional rates income for the Council.

"If these wind farms have been operating for five or six years, Sligo County Council has lost potential income of almost three quarters of a million euro."

Debt

Cllr Bree continued, "I certainly find the information shocking. The County Council is up to its eyes in debt. It has little or no money to provide services, or to provide financial assistance to residents associations and community groups yet at the same time it has been missing out on collecting hundreds of thousands of euro annually in commercial rates.

"I found the report we received from officials at today’s meeting totally unsatisfactory.

"The Council management and Cllr Marie Casserly [Mayor of Sligo] said the system which the Council has in place, is working. That certainly isn’t my view. In my view the system is broken and the correspondence from Mr Lemass proves it.

"Many small shopkeepers and other ratepayers throughout the country are finding it very difficult to make ends meet and are expected to pay rates. Yet we learn that major commercial firms are not paying any rates because of the failure of the council management to have them valued for valuation purposes.

"I did propose that a full investigation be undertaken into the matter and I am pleased that my motion was adopted. We will now have to wait patiently for the outcome of the investigation," concluded Mr Bree.