Homeowners hit with 5% property tax rise

by Mark O'Brien

HOMEOWNERS in Fingal face a 5% increase in their Local Property Tax (LPT) after Fingal County Council narrowly voted to increase the tax for 2018.

Councillors had been warned prior to the vote that the local authority’s budget was forecast to run a deficit of approximately €8 million next year if the LPT was not increased, and that this could lead to a reduction in services, including homeless services in the county.

Since the tax was introduced in 2013, councillors have voted to reduce the LPT by the maximum allowable rate of 15%.

However, following a motion brought by Labour Councillors Mary McCamley, Duncan Smith and Brian McDonagh, councillors voted by 20 to 17 to reduce the LPT by 10% in 2018 – with Fine Gael, The Green Party, the Social Democrats and a number of independent councillors voting in support of the motion.

The vote means that the owner of a house worth between €350,000 and €400,000 in Fingal will pay €608 next year, compared to €573 this year.

Homeowners in areas where local authorities have not imposed any reduction in the LPT must pay €675 on a property of the same value.

Cllr McDonagh made a passionate plea in support of his motion, saying: “Historically across Europe and everywhere else on the Left, we have always favoured taxes that include taxes on property rather than just taxation on labour.

“I think it is scandalous that people are not prepared to put their votes where their mouths are in terms of providing the resources in order to provide services that they claim to believe in.”

Cllr Jimmy Guerin also spoke in support of the motion, saying that the increase would be minimal for most people.

He said: “We’re talking about 29 cents per week for up to 80% of our households – that’s the equivalent of three cigarettes.”

However, speaking afterwards, Cllr Tania Doyle said that she was very unhappy with the result of the vote.

She said: “Councillors were told that unless we voted for a zero change that services such as fire and rescue, libraries, community projects such as St Patrick’s Day parades would be in jeopardy.

“Most concerning was that homeless support services would be cut, and this after the Homeless Summit where the Minister [for Housing] said money was no object to solve this issue.”

Cllr Doyle added she felt councillors were forced to vote for “the least worst option, and in a modern society that is not acceptable”.

The increase was welcomed by Fingal County Council’s chief executive Paul Reid, who said: “”I welcome the decision … to impose a 10% reduction as this will generate €1.9m which will be ring-fenced for local services, housing and homeless supports.

“If councillors had voted to take the full 15% reduction, we would have had to cut services in order to balance our budget.

“There have been detailed engagements over the past few weeks and months with the Corporate Policy Group and the various political parties and groupings in which the council’s management team set out some of the very real upward pressures on our costs in providing services to a growing county like Fingal.”

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