Covid-19 is to bring a level of uncertainty to the collection of rates by the County Council this year, according to the Local Authority’s Head of Finance Lorraine O’Neill.
Speaking to the council, Ms O’Neill said the county had reduced their arrears from €20.8m in 2015 to €9.59m in 2019, a decrease of 54%.
The council’s gross rates have been growing steadily over the past 9 years from €90.1m in 2010 to €123.9m in 2019.
The council’s head of finance said that the local authority has had a very good engagement rate with a growing compliance rate year on year. In 2019 the rate of compliance was 93%, up 1.2% from 2018, which had a compliance rate of 91.8%.
However, Ms O’Neill said there are some businesses which try to dodge their duty in paying their rates.
“Of course, there are businesses who don’t engage with us in terms of rates, and we have had to engage in legal action in certain circumstances,” she said, adding that they issued 726 pre-six-day, 424 six-day notices (payment reminders) along with 198 summons which gathered 107 judgements in 2019.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Ms O’Neill said the council predicted great difficulty in collecting their rates for 2020.
“The situation in 2020 is going to be very different, it is going to be very challenging to collect rates over 2020 without issuing notices and that and it will be very difficult to predict the level of impact of Covid will have on the collection of rates in 2020 and into 2021.”
In 2019, rate income accounted for 39% of the total revenue income for the local authority and it is the most significant source of the council’s own funding.