City rates‘too high’for stores

A court ruled yesterday that a shop owner should not have to pay a City of Athens fine for using the public space outside his store, which could lead to hundreds of cafe and taverna owners who pay for the right to place tables and chairs on sidewalks claiming money back from the municipality. Judges ruled that the capital’s recent dramatic rises in charges for using public space were not enforceable and went beyond the authority that the City of Athens had to increase the rates. The municipality changed its rates in 2001 so, for example, a store owner using 36 square meters of public space would have to pay almost 6,500 euros a year for the privilege. The fine for non-payment was double this amount. Before the change in rates, the same amount of space cost store owners under 700 euros a year. Alexis Anagnostakis, the lawyer representing the businessmen that brought the case, said the ruling means that the City of Athens has to return any money that it gained through the unenforceable rate rises.

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