Online shopping threat to rates so new income stream needed
Wexford County Council needs to look to new income streams due to the ever-growing popularity of online shopping, officials were warned.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne said an in-depth review is needed into how local government is funded. 'If we are going to rely on commercial rates when a lot of commercial activity is shifting to online we are going to have to look at some way of factoring that in. It's a point of concern. If we are relying on main street shops as an income source, they are disappearing as online retailers are growing.'
Cllr David Hynes said property tax and rates are the council's funding cornerstones. Head of Finance Annette O'Neill said a process is under way which will highlight how under funded Wexford County Council is and following from that funding should increase.
Cllr Michael Sheehan said many smaller businesses are struggling to make ends meet. He called for rates to be based on turnover rather than property value. Ms O'Neill said turnover will factor into businesses' valuations.
Cllr Johnny Mythen said the local authority can use the All Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) report which highlights how labour force participating in County Wexford is less than 60 per cent (59.3 per cent), the 12th lowest rate in the country. The report states that there is a significant spread in rates, the highest labour force participation rate being Gorey (63.5 per cent), and the lowest, Campile (49.4 per cent). 83.4 per cent of the Wexford labour force are 'at work', the fifth lowest in the country, according to the AIRO report.