MANY businesses in Ardee are still worried about the cost of commercial rates as they face into the new year and another 12 months of economic recession.
In December, Ardee Town Council, like Dundalk Town Council, reduced its commercial rates because of the pressures local business, but many shops are still finding it hard to meet the bill.
“The rates are the main worry for local retailers now,” a member of Ardee Business and Traders Association said.
Furthermore, at a recent meeting in Ardee organised by the lobbying group Employers for Affordable Rates, local people said that many businesses, including charities such as the Irish Wheelchair Association, are paying thousands of euros in rates which many business people feel is too much of a burden in an economic recession.
Hugh O’Neill of the Ardee Traders and Business Association said the axing of the local rates collector has not helped matters.
“We had a rates collector coming in and that made things a lot easier. People could negotiate.
“It could be broken down. But that has stopped and it has made it twice as bad.”
This point was also made by Cllr Jim Tenanty at meetings of Ardee town council.
The town council hopes to make a e28,000 profit from pay-parking if the proposed change in by-laws goes ahead in the new year.
This will help finance local events such as the August weekend Turfman Festival which over the past few years has brought people into the town and been a boost to business.
But despite the continued concern over rates, business in Ardee picked up over the Christmas period.
“There was a buzz about the town this Christmas,” said one trader.
“It was better this year. I think business in general took a big hit last year but it went better this year.
“People made an effort to shop local. But they were more careful in how they spent their money.
“And retailers definitely had to work harder. Most shop owners were on the premises full-time. This is the case now because they do not have the same staff. They opened an hour earlier and stayed open later.”