Businesses in Keady and other towns across county Armagh are being hit by the rates revaluation process.
One councillor has hit out at how much it has affected businesses in the small south Armagh town.
Sinn Fein councillor Darren Mc Nally had hoped the revaluation of non-domestic rates would lead to a fairer distribution of the burden but unfortunately this had not materialised in the Keady area – and in fact is causing serious concerns for businesses in the district.
Councillor McNally said: “Many felt that the revaluation was long overdue because for many years the burden that was being shouldered by most small businesses bore little or no resemblance to the rental value of their properties, particularly since the economic downturn.
“However I have been approached by a number of business owners in Keady town after they where told that there will be an increase of 30-35% as part of the rates bill. Currently Land and Property Services (LPS) have been assessing rates based on 2001 rental income of non-domestic properties, but from next year it will be based on rental income of 2013. This formula clearly doesn’t work or isn’t taking into consideration the realties on the ground.”
He added: “Keady currently has a lot of vacant buildings , we in council we are trying to regenerate the area in the expectation that it would help to sustain current businesses and to entice new business to the town, I fear an increase of 30-35 % will see the trend of vacant properties continuing as more people go out of business.”
MLA Cathal Boylan confirmed that he and councillor Mc Nally would be meeting with LPS to discuss the matter.
Mr Boylan said: “High Rates has been one of the main reasons for the closure of so many small businesses, with most others just barely surviving.
“There had been an expectation that this re-evaluation would help to create a more level playing field in terms of the rates burden and give a long-overdue boost to many small struggling businesses and enable them to survive and possibly grow, but unfortunately for many areas that has not materialised.
“We will meet with LPS as a mater of urgency to raise these concerns and discuss a way forward.”
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