ALMOST €3.4 million stumped up by Northsiders as part of the Metro North levy will continue to sit in an unused bank account until the Government decides when, or if, to proceed with the light rail project.
The levy is a financial charge imposed on homes or properties built along the proposed route for Metro North. Dublin City Council, on behalf of the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA), is still collecting the fee even though the Government announced last November that it was deferring the project under its Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016 plan.
Questions have been asked on why the levy should be collected when the scheme itself has been deferred with no date set for its construction.
Northside home-owner Christine Griffin, who was forced to stump up e3,000 under the levy because she built her house near the route of Metro North, described the situation as “ridiculous”.
Like most home-buyers single-mother Christine struggled to save enough money to get on the property ladder, which proved to be even more costly because her home was built along the route of Metro North.
The 29-year-old built her two-story house on Whitworth Road in Drumcondra in 2010.
On top of the cost of the build, Christine had to fork out €14,000 to the council in contributions and a further €3,000 towards the Metro North scheme.
“I assumed that when the project was deferred that the council wouldn’t be imposing the fee anymore,” she told Northside People.
“I had to get money from my family members to be able to pay all of the contributions I was charged.
“That €3,000 towards the Metro North was an extra blow I really didn’t need.”
She added: “If I’d known about these charges then I wouldn’t have built my house there.”
Local councillor Mary Fitzpatrick (FF) recently tabled a motion calling on the council to suspend the Metro North levy and for it only to be reactivated if or when it gets the go ahead from the Government.
She also called for property owners to be refunded all levies that have been paid since the scheme was first introduced in 2007.
Cllr Fitzpatrick, whose motion was defeated, believes the scheme is discouraging development along the route of Metro North which was due to run from Stephen’s Green to Swords.
“I believe it is an unfair penalty and is suppressing development along the route,” she stated.
In response to Cllr Fitzpatrick’s motion, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council confirmed that since the scheme was adopted in 2007, a total of €3,394,548 has been collected.
“These monies have been collected on behalf of the Rail Procurement Agency and must be passed on to the agency when requested,” he stated.
“The Metro North scheme allows for a refund of contributions paid should the project not proceed.
“While the Government has suspended its implementation, the project has not been cancelled.
“Should a decision to implement the project be made, Dublin City Council will have to forward all contributions due under the scheme to the Rail Procurement Agency, including any contributions refunded or uncollected.”
According to the spokesperson, the scheme can be modified where the cost of the project is less than anticipated.
“The scheme cannot be suspended or refunds made until such time as the Government formally cancels the Metro North rail line,” the spokesperson concluded.