Commenting on the announcement of the proposed rates increase CBA Chief Executive Lawrence Owens said.
"The proposal by Cork City Council to increase commercial rates by 2.9% will unquestionably have a negative effect on business, particularly in the retail sector. It is the view of the Cork Business Association that now is clearly not the right time to increase commercial rates; just as there are signs that businesses are slowly beginning to recover and we shall be communicating this position very strongly to Cork City Council.
Increasing rates, will put unfair pressure on the business sector in the city. Most businesses have reduced their cost base since the recession including Cork City Council, however the private sector, unlike the city council, doesn't have the guaranteed revenue that commercial rates provides. And, it is clear that the council is increasingly leaning on the business sector to fund its operations. The rates return for 2012 at €64,462,500 represented 38.7% of the councils income, in 2016 this has increased to €66,697,100 or 44% . If this trend were to continue commercial rates will soon equate to 50% of Council's budget which is a very unhealthy position for any enterprise.
The outlook for the business sector is positive but we should proceed with caution. Cork when compared with Dublin, is recovering at a slower pace. One has only to look at the current vacancy rates in Patrick Street to see clear evidence of this. The knock on effects of this proposed increase could be many. We are fortunate in Cork to still have so many local indigenous businesses in our city centre, some just managing to stay afloat. It would be to the detriment of the city's character if further costs, such as this proposed rate increase represents, were to mean they had to close their doors. We must too consider the possible effects that Brexit could have for the city' hospitality and retail sector as a falling pound sterling results in reducing visitor numbers from the UK and drives Irish consumers to UK online shopping websites."