Local authorities have a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.
The elected members of local authorities have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions of the authority, including adopting the annual budget. Setting the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) is a key part of the budgetary process.
The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provided for rates harmonisation to cater for differences between ARVs of former town councils and county councils. The new structures of local government, including the establishment of municipal districts, provided an opportunity to achieve a more coherent approach to rates and charges on a county-wide basis.
In 2015, local authorities began the process of harmonisation to cater for differences between ARVs of former town councils and of county councils. Changes in rates liability, due to harmonisation, are being phased in over a period of up to 10 years. An adjustment mechanism is provided to phase in increases and decreases to be known as the Base Year Adjustment (BYA). The adoption of the ARV and BYA in respect of each financial year are reserved functions of local authority members.
Three local authorities have yet to complete the rates harmonisation process, including Louth County Council. It is expected that the remaining authorities will make progressive steps over the next budgetary periods to complete the harmonisation process within the legislative requirements. In that context, the specific timeframe for the completion of the process is a matter for each local authority and the issue of a meeting with the Council on this matter does not arise.
My Department liaises with local authorities on financial matters and with the sector generally on an ongoing basis, while at all times respecting the mandate of elected representatives to carry out their reserved functions.