New levy plan for town is passed

by Gazette Reporter
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A RESOUNDING endorsement was made by councillors voting to pass the business improvement district (BID) initiative when it reached the council this week.
At a council meeting held on March 10, councillors voted 24 in favour and three against BID, which was earlier passed by Dun Laoghaire traders in a plebiscite resulting in 215 for and 178 against the proposal.
BID will now go ahead, which means that traders will set up a limited company, on the board of which will be traders and a local authority member.
A mandatory fee of around €200 per year will accrue to each Dun Laoghaire businesses. This levy for the rate payers is expected to yield €250,000 a year.
Cllr Jane Dillon Byrne (Lab), who was elected to the board of the new BID company in the capacity of local authority representative, said she had “a lot of respect for those who undertook to progress BID to this point, but personally I was disappointed that the business people did not respond in the way I felt they should have done.
“I felt the percentage of support coming from business should have been a lot higher than it was [54.7% who voted were in favour].”
While the vast majority of councillors supported the BID proposal, there were some dissenting voices, including Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind).
He said: “We [the council] will have to invoice the people, the traders – we will have to remind them, send second reminders, and we’ll have to collect the money.
“In relation to [any trader] boycotting [the levy], or people who can’t pay, nobody can give me an answer.
“There is no definitive legal argument or paper drawn up that states who has the responsibility [of acting under this non-payment scenario].
“When 100 or 200 people refuse to pay, who’s knocking at the door: Mr BID or us [the council]? Well, I don’t want this council to be knocking as a debt collector to put pressure on businesses who are suffering,” he said.
Martin O’Byrne, vice-chairman of Dun Laoghaire Business Association, said the issue of refusal to pay had yet to be sorted out, but that he was relieved BID was passed.
Cllr Cormac Devlin (FF) said: “I don’t believe BID will address all the issues, but I do believe it’s a step in the right direction.
“I think traders are saying that they have confidence in this, and that they want to try this, they want to see the benefit of BID.”
Cllr Donna Pierce (Lab) said: “I think the people driving it [BID] are to be congratulated for the work they’ve put in.
“BID will give the opportunity to local businesses to be in the driving seat, to attend to and promote their businesses in a way that we possibly can’t in the council.”

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