The work of the Valuation Office is underpinned by The Valuation Act 2001 which provides for the valuation of all commercial and industrial property. The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Act and the making of valuations for local authority rating is his sole prerogative. The statute does not accord me, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, any function in this regard. In accordance with the 2001 Act, which came into force on 2nd May, 2002, a national programme is being rolled out progressively for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties in the State.
The revaluation programme aims to provide up-to-date valuations for individual properties across all economic sectors that are subject to local authority rates. The revaluation process is the mechanism whereby economic changes that take place in the property market are reflected in the valuation lists for rates purposes and in individual ratepayers' rates liabilities. It is an important programme, especially given the significant changes in values and rents following the economic downturn of recent years.
The purpose of a revaluation is to redistribute commercial rates liabilities among ratepayers based on up-to-date values. Following revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability. Even though property values have fallen generally, some ratepayers will gain while others will lose from the process of redistribution but, overall, revaluation results in a fairer distribution of the rates burden.
The revaluation programme, which has been completed in three County Council areas in Dublin, began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. The revaluation of South Dublin was completed in December 2007, Fingal was completed in 2009 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was completed in 2010. The revaluation of Dublin City Council area began in May 2011 and will be completed in 2013. The Commissioner signed valuation orders for Waterford on 12th December, 2011 and Limerick on 29th March, 2012. The Waterford and Limerick revaluations will be completed in 2013 and 2014 respectively. It is intended to extend the revaluation programme to further local authority areas as soon as it is practicable to do so but it is not possible at present to say where these areas will be.
While the extension of the project to Dublin City is the major current focus and represents an important advance, the Commissioner has expressed his concern that the present rate of progress may not allow the Office to complete the job nationally within the ten years from 2008 which the Office previously indicated.
Accordingly, the Valuation Office is actively pursuing ways to accelerate the revaluation programme. The Commissioner has indicated that following detailed examination of various possibilities over the past year the Office has concluded that it may be feasible to introduce a Self-assessment approach, accompanied by appropriate controls, and that it might be possible also to outsource some of the work. The enabling provisions to allow for these changes are included in proposals for amending legislation currently being drafted by the Parliamentary Draftsman and, subject to the enactment of this legislation, I understand that the intention would be to initiate pilot revaluations in two local authority areas using the new methodologies.