The need for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to identify a way to address the increase in commercial rates levied on sports clubs with a members bar

Question Posed To: 
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

 The Valuation Office, as part of its revaluation programme, is in the process of updating the valuation of all commercial properties. The revaluation has been completed and is effective for rates purposes in the local authority areas of Fingal, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. The revaluation of Dublin city and the three rating authorities in Waterford is nearing completion and proposed valuation certificates have been issued in these areas. Final valuation certificates for rateable properties in these four local authorities will issue in December 2013.

 At this time it is only the revaluation process that is likely to give rise to increases in rates for sports clubs since the local authorities, in order to assist business in as much as they can, have not increased their ARV, annual rate on valuation, in recent years. For Dublin city and Waterford the valuations proposed are not yet in the public domain and at this stage are a matter between the occupier of the property and the Commissioner of Valuation. Before the valuations are published the occupier can make representations to the commissioner and after publication appeals against a valuation can be lodged. Any increase in rates as a result of the revaluation process will be because it reflects a relative increase in value of a property when compared to all other rateable premises.

 This assessment of relative value is completed by the Commissioner of Valuation on an independent basis. The revaluation programme will update the values on which rates are based to reflect modern values. As it currently stands rates in areas that have not been revalued are based on values and relativities that persisted in 1998 or much earlier. The revaluation programme will ensure that rates are levied on a more equitable basis. Any concession that might be considered for the category of property is likely to erode the equity in the system. First, any concession to one category of property would have to be passed on to the occupiers of all other rateable valuations. Local authorities calculate the ARV on the basis of the aggregate value on their valuation list. Second, many sports clubs with a bar are in competition with other licensed premises which also pay rates. This would further increase the inequity of a concession.

  If a property is rateable then it is the commissioner who determines its value and he is completely independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act 2001. The making of valuations for rating purposes is his sole prerogative. I am informed by the commissioner that for sports clubs the playing area is not included in the valuation calculation. The Act does not prescribe any particular method of valuation for a particular class or use of property. However, equity and uniformity of approach are key valuation principles and it would be unfair to statutorily prescribe a method of valuation that advantaged or disadvantaged one ratepayer or class of ratepayers over another.

  The values determined and the methods used to determine values can be the subject of representations from the ratepayer, appeal to the commissioner, appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal and to the courts. The practices used and the values determined are, therefore, continuously tested. I believe the current system, which exempts a high percentage of sports facilities, achieves a balance between the interests of sports clubs and the broader ratepayer base.