Call to scrap Cork Chamber's City Hall hiring discount

A councillor has called on Cork City Council to scrap a generous discount deal for Cork Chamber on the hire of City Hall’s concert hall venue for one of the business group’s flagship social events.

Call to scrap Cork Chamber's City Hall hiring discount

Fianna Fáil Cllr Tim Brosnan says he wants the chamber to pay the full rate of just over €15,000 for its annual gala Chamber Dinner.

Figures show that if charged the full rate, the chamber should have paid just over €85,000 to hire the facility for six gala dinners between 2010 and 2015.

But thanks to the discount, it paid €34,600 — a more than 50% discount which saved it just over €49,000.

A spokesman for City Hall said the chamber sought the partial waiver some time ago and it was granted, in part, as a demonstration of the council’s support for the city’s business community. The partial waiver is also applied to the rate charged for charitable, artistic, cultural or enterprise-related events.

Mr Brosnan’s call comes a week after the chamber criticised city councillors for increasing commercial rates by 1.25% as part of a package of measures, proposed by Fianna Fáil and backed by Fine Gael, to plug a €1.6m shortfall in council funds.

Mr Brosnan said if the chamber paid the full hire rate, the council’s deficit would have been reduced somewhat.

“I think the chamber leaders should take a week in Lough Derg to reflect.

“The city held its commercial rates static for the last eight years, despite extreme financial constraints.

“But this year, we had to implement a modest rates increase, the first in eight years, which will be offset by an incentivised rates reduction scheme which will benefit SMEs most.

“I note the chamber is headed up by accountants, bankers, lawyers, ad hoc consultants and auctioneers.

“I wonder how many of those working in these sectors managed to hold their rates and fees static for the last eight years.”

Cork Chamber chief executive, Conor Healy, pointed out last night that the waiver applies to not-for-profit and enterprise related activity, and Cork Chamber is a not-for-profit group which supports economic development in partnership with the council.

“We value and appreciate the discount which reduces the cost to us of hiring the venue to just over €6,000,” he said.

“The chamber annual dinner is the largest and leading business event outside Dublin. It is attended by key decision and policy makers from all over the country, and leading business figures from Cork and beyond. It plays a key role in promoting Cork.

“And we are pleased to have the opportunity to hold such an important event in such prestigious venue, with the support of council.”

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