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 is his sole prerogative. The statute does not accord me as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform any function in this regard.
The Valuation Act, 2001 provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose and constructions affixed thereto, such as plant, motive power and electricity generating facilities, including turbines, are rateable unless expressly exempted under Schedule 4 of the Act. Such exempt buildings would ordinarily include domestic dwellings, farm buildings, those used for public worship, education and health-care provided on a not-for-profit basis, buildings occupied and used for charitable purposes and buildings occupied by certain societies established for the advancement of science, literature and the fine arts which are used exclusively for that purpose and otherwise than for private profit.
I am conscious of the need to minimise costs on business and employment, including commercial rates. Local Authorities have implemented efficiencies and have cut their budgets over the last number of years, but income from commercial rates remains an important source of revenue to provide services locally. The compilation and maintenance of valuation lists of all commercial property by the independent Valuation Office aims to ensure that the rates burden is shared in an equitable way by the ratepayers in each local authority area. The basic rationale is that the commercial property of all persons that occupy that property with the intention of making a profit is rateable. The equal treatment of all such property is intended to provide equal treatment to all ratepayers. Exempting specific sub-sets of property would introduce anomalies and inequites.
While it is not clear if the issue the Deputy is referring to is the same, I am aware of concerns with the valuation of wind farms that have arisen from the revaluation of all commercial property in Limerick, in relation to increases in rates liability for those that operate them. These valuations are under appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation. There were calls for changes to the valuation legislation in the Bill that was recently enacted as the Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015 and which will be commenced shortly. The Valuation Act 2001 provides for an appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation and subsequent appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal and to the High Court on a point of law. In considering the Bill, it was decided that the independent valuation and appeals process should be allowed to run its course before a full consideration of the impact of the revaluation on the sector can be undertaken. If the conclusion from that full consideration is that legislative change is necessary, then appropriate consideration can be given to the matter at stage.