Local taxes ‘hitting entrepreneurs’

IRELAND’S largest business group today warned that entrepreneurs were being stifled by added costs involved in setting up companies.

The Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI) claimed councils were imposing varied and confusing local taxes on new developments, hampering investors.

Sean Murphy, CCI head of public affairs, said flat fees should be introduced on start-up projects in order to establish some fairness in the system.

“We’re not opposed to the principle of development charges, but we need more clarity, we need more uniformity in how it is levied,” he said.

“We will be urging the department to issue more rigorous guidelines to local authorities on how they should levy the charges.”

Local authorities can levy charges on new developments in their areas, whether it is housing estates, commercial or industrial operations.

But the CCI said fees varied across the country due to size and location and charges were being imposed on top of the commercial rates businesses already had to pay.

The claim could be seen as worrying as the CCI is Ireland’s largest business federation with 59 member chambers representing more than 12,000 organisations.

Mr Murphy said the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government offers no specific method for the calculation of contributions. He said local authorities were only required to satisfy themselves that a charge could be justified.

Hilary Haydon, chair of CCI’s ratepayers’ council, said: “The variations in timings, indices used and the difficulty in accessing information on development charges is hampering the ability of businesses to plan and so is delaying investment decisions that our economy needs to be made to sustain future growth.”

The CCI claimed Dublin was the dearest business location with a charge of over €23,000 for every 200 sq m development.

Galway city and Donegal were the cheapest spots with charges a little over €1,000.

A spokesman for Dublin City Council said it was important to compare like with like.

It was not possible to compare a major development in Dublin city centre with a standalone house in the West of Ireland.

“Dublin is the prime engine driving the national economy, and the provision of services for developments costs a lot more than other places,” said the spokesman.

He said developers in Dublin knew from the outset how the city’s charges would affect them because the process was transparent.

“We have a good relationship with developers thanks to our pre-planning consultation process,” the spokesman said.

Highest charges

1. Dublin City €23,400

2. Limerick County Council (environs) €22,972

3. Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown County Council €21,878

4. Fingal County Council €21,200

5. Cork County €20,592

6. Limerick City €20,000

7. Kildare County €16,022

8. South Dublin County Council €15,956

9. Louth €14,424

10. Meath €14,392

All figures based on a development of 200 sq m

Lowest charges

1. Galway City €1,300

2 . Donegal County €1,504

3. Clare €2,600

4. Waterford County Council €3,000

5. Kerry €3,450

6. Cavan County Council €4,000

7. Leitrim €4,000

8. Waterford City Council €4,160

9. Galway County Council €6,000

10. Wexford County Council €6,230

Charges are paid by developers for services such as lighting, sewerage and roads when planning permission is granted.

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