Independent councillor Gus O’Connell says that the drop in owed levies showed the council was doing a good job

The amount of development levies owed to South Dublin County Council has dropped by a third in the last three years.
Figures released to The Gazette show that the council is now owed €24.7 million in outstanding levies. In June 2010 they were owed €37 million.
The drop in money owed comes from a combination of levies being collected and written off, with SDCC saying that the bad debt figure is approximately €17 million.
The figures also show that the vast majority of levies, 48%, are owed on developments that are listed as “completed, but vacant”.
No developments are listed as incomplete and just 2% are unfinished. Over one fifth, 22%, are listed as being owed on “stopped” developments and 21% are completed and occupied.
Independent councillor Gus O’Connell, who is on the council’s audit committee, says that the drop in owed levies showed the council was doing a good job, but that more needed to be done.
“It’s a very tough environment at the moment and [during the boom] we were one of the best counties in a way, so we were quite lucky.
“We definitely had a good record and a good system in place for collecting the levies [before the crash].
“We definitely keep an eye on [the amount of outstanding levies] and I know the council has taken steps to collect the levies.”
The Palmerstown councillor said that some of the levies are “caught up in red tape” but argued that there should be a “smarter regime” in terms of the collection of development levies.
“The system is biased at the moment in favour of the developer.
“They pay levies after completion and not all of the levy gets passed back by the developer immediately.
“If the levy was paid when the house was completed, it would deter speculators,” said Cllr O’Connell.
Fianna Fail councillor Trevor Gilligan said that the figures indicated a county that could not afford to develop any more, due to prohibitive rates and levies.
“The reason there has been less development is that people and businesses can’t afford it any longer.
“I think the council needs to do more to make the county more business friendly to allow small and medium enterprises to grow, to reduce any levies we have and to reduce council rates.
“I think the main reason there has been that reduction is that people are spending less.”