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  • Northside East

Council responds to Local Property Tax criticism

Wednesday, 21st November, 2018 8:00am
Council responds to Local Property  Tax criticism

Fingal County Hall. FILE PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Council responds to Local Property  Tax criticism

Fingal County Hall. FILE PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Callum Lavery

FINGAL residents are now paying what some councillors are calling an “unnecessary” property tax rate, following a surprising increase in council income.

The councillors are mandated to decide the property tax ‘adjustment factor’, every September despite not deciding the annual budget until November.

However, at a Fingal County Council budget meeting earlier this month, councillors were surprised to hear that an extra €8.6 million was discovered in the treasury.

Several councillors said if they had known of this amount earlier they would not have increased the LPT by five percent in September.

Cllr Keith Redmond, who represents the Howth Malahide Local Electoral Area (LEA), said: “I was shocked to hear that the council found an extra €8.6 million just two months after telling us that we must increase property tax to maintain services. This tax hike is now obviously completely unnecessary.”

In September, councillors were expected to provide a financial picture for the coming year to decide whether or not property tax should be increased. 

The councillors criticised the decision that the property tax rate must be decided before the annual budget meeting, and would not have decided to increase property tax had they known about the money currently available. 

Cllr Redmond said the total amount of money raised by increasing the tax rate is around €2 million and that families should not be made to foot the bill. 

“Some councillors were persuaded by emotive language,” he argued. “Now they discovered that the extra €2 million wasn’t needed at all but we have no power to reverse that decision. 

“We need property tax to be decided at the main budget meeting in future to avoid this happening again.”

Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell (FG) echoed Cllr Redmond’s sentiments.

“The fact that decisions on local property tax rates were taken prior to the council’s budget meeting has, in my opinion, led to a missed opportunity to reduce the financial burden many individuals and families in Fingal may face,” said Deputy Farrell. 

“It is my hope that, in the years ahead, our local councillors will be provided with the information on the finances which will be available for the local authority’s annual budget in advance of having to make a decision on local property tax rates. 

“This, I believe, would be in the best interests of every resident, and every community throughout Fingal.”

In a statement Fingal County Council said that as was outlined to councillors, the marginal cost of the variation to the vast majority of LPT payers in Fingal will be less than 50 cent per week. 

It also pointed out that as the LPT collection is managed by Revenue they require that all Local Authorities have made their LPT decision by the end of September.  

“The issue of allowing the LPT decision to be made in November as part of the budget meeting has been raised by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) with Revenue but at the moment Revenue are unable to facilitate any change to the current arrangements,” a council spokesperson said. 

“The increased revenue in the 2019 budget was primarily driven by rates buoyancy, a rate increase (following a number of decreases during the economic downturn) and additional central government grant funding. 

“The decision on the rates increase was made at the budget meeting held on November 6 while clarity on buoyancy and the central government funding was only finalised in the run up to the finalisation of the budget. 

“The council members on the Corporate Policy Group were kept up to date during the budgetary process.” 

The spokesperson said the council’s overall budgetary strategy was to maintain and enhance the provision of services throughout the county. “Fingal is the fastest growing and most diverse county in the country 
and this budget provides for significant investment in the future of the county,” the spokesperson added.  

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