Commercial rates will increase in Fingal for the second year in a row after councillors agreed a 2% hike as part of an approved €237million budget.

The 2019 spend passed by 33 votes to three with a €3 million increase in funds for housing, an extra €1 million for roads and an additional €2.5 million for amenities.

The rates rise will generate an extra €2.5 million, which will be earmarked for street cleaning, parks maintenance and investment in tourism and community events.

Councillors had voted at a meeting in September not to alter the rate of the Local Property Tax, opting for a 10% below the baseline rather than the 15% available to them.

Some members accused council officials of misleading them at the September meeting as it emerged that income was €8 million higher than previously revealed.

After the meeting, Cllr Keith Redmond tweeted: “We’ve just been made aware that there’s an EXTRA €8 million income above what we were told at the LPT meeting in September.

“Basically, it means the €2 million increase in people’s LPT was not needed. Executive deny misleading members.”

He added: “€22,550 was spent doing a census of red squirrels on Howth to see how many of the 25 animals in 2011 were still there. Two were found.

“That €22,550 represents about 40 houses’ LPT for 2018 … to count squirrels.”

Cllr Redmond noted that there had been a €20 million rise in overall spending by Fingal County Council in 2017 and 2018 and there was no need to increase commercial rates “if you can afford to increase spending by 9% over two years”.

In an unusual move, Deputy Alan Farrell (FG) also commented on the LPT issue and released a statement claiming the decision to strike a rate was taken too soon.

He said: “It is my opinion that councillors should have been provided with this information [extra €8 million] while they were discussing the LPT rate that residents in Fingal will have to pay.”

The budget represents €801 per head of population to provide services and investment with an emphasis on housing and community.

In total, €64m will be spent on housing and building, €27m on road transport and safety, €20m on water services, €23m on development management, €45m on environmental services, €45m on recreation and amenity, €1m on agriculture, health, education and €12m on miscellaneous services.

Council chief executive Paul Reid said the €10m increase in spending would help meet the “significant challenge” of demands on services in the fastest growing local authority area in the country.

Under its three-year Capital Programme 2019-2021, the council will spend a further €588m on 212 individual projects across the county.

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