The loss of rates payment by businesses to Laois County Council could end up costing them millions in lost income, it has been revealed.
Sinn Fein Cllrs Aidan Mullins and Caroline Dwane Stanley made the disclosure following engagement they had with County Council Chief Executive John Mulholland.
Cllr Mullins revealed that Mr Mulholland said that the estimated loss of rates income for Laois County Council will come to €632,000 per month due to the profound impact of closure, restrictions and loss of trade in many business sectors in Laois.
Thankfully, for the first three months of the pandemic, the Government will fund the loss of rates to local authorities.
This will amount to €85 million per month for all 31 Local Authorities and will last until June 27 at which time it will be reviewed.
However, if this scheme is not extended, Laois County Council could end up €7.6 million in the red as no rates are set to be paid for the remainder of 2020.
Mr Mullins said: “In a separate update issued on May 15 to Councillors, the Chief Executive stated that many businesses will pay no rates for 2020 and possibly beyond.
“The current estimate of income loss, in the absence of a rescue package from the Exchequer, is €7.6 million to Laois County Council.
“This is a frightening scenario for the delivery of services across the county and Laois County Council cannot carry this financial burden alone.
“Consequently it is vital that the Government extends the rates alleviation fund beyond June 27.”
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Laois County Council has spent €400,000 thus far.
According to Cllr Mullins, this has been spent on things such as: Back up crews of retained fire fighters; Extra PPE; Procurement of laptops, teleconferencing and extra phone lines and alterations to office layout.
Cllr Mullins said: “Chief Executive John Mulholland is hoping that this can be recouped from the Exchequer but this is not guaranteed.”
Confirming the news, Mr Mulholland says Coronavirus could not have come at a worse time for Laois.
He said: “I like to keep Councillors updated on the finances of the Council but, like everywhere else, this is not good news.
“After many years of hardship, Laois as a county was really starting to thrive so Coronavirus came, like it did for many, at a very bad time for us.
“We can only remain positive though and hope that a solution to this can be found. There are many great people working on this and we have to trust that they will.”