BUSINESSES across Fermanagh have hit out at the proposed rates hike claiming that any increase to their rates bill will “send them over the edge”.
Representatives of Enniskillen Business Partnership (EBP) have called on Fermanagh District Council to abandon their proposed 0.6 per cent rise in rates to alleviate growing pressures on what they say is a “fragile” local economy.
One local business owner, who runs a fastfood takeaway, said he has to sell 15,000 bags of chips in a year just to foot his rates bill.
Donal McGovern of McGovern opticians, and treasurer of EBP, explained that a hike to the rates bill will send “barely surviving businesses over the edge”.
“Over the last seven years of the rates rises we have suffered a reduction in trade,” he said.
“Some have closed and any others have had to cut down on staff to keep costs down. Over that same period we have had a small increase in rates, reduced turnover and high bills to pay.
“We went to the council and asked could they not increase the rates as businesses are closing that have been here a long time and businesses can not take much more and we wont attract any new business because of these barriers. Nearly every business in the town feels it is too high.
“An increase in rates to businesses which are barely surviving will put them over the edge.
“One business owner told me that to pay his rates in a small business he has to sell 15,000 bags of chips annually. That’s not even including staff wages, bills or building maintenance.”
Councillors are to meet tonight (Wednesday) to discuss the implementation of the rates hike of 0.6%, which has been agreed by the vast majority of councillors.
However, a number of businesses in Enniskillen have claimed that they are being forced to make cut-backs on staff and hours because of rising bills and low turnover.
Joe Mahon of Mahon Hotel in Irvinestown, explained that the rise in outside competition is putting pressure on local businesses.
He added: “The last few years has been constant cut-backs and the bills keep going up and the rise in rates is one thing we could do without. Any staff that have left we haven’t replaced, we work extra hours and we don’t take any time off.
“We don’t want the council to raise the rates, so either freeze them or reduce them. Any businesses that close has a detrimental effect on the other businesses and the local economy,” said Mr Mahon, pictured.
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