Carlow councillors vote for no increase to Property Tax as Council faces €900,000 budget deficit

Members of Carlow County Council voted after a proposal from the local authority's executive

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

news@carlowlive.ie

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Carlow County Council offices on the Athy Road

Carlow councillors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of no increase to the Local Property Tax in 2019. 

The Council is facing into a budget shortfall of almost €876,000 and the local authority's executive proposed that they balance the books by increasing LPT to meet its legal requirement to adopt a balanced budget. 

However, at a special meeting on Monday, a motion seeking no increase to the LPT was tabled by Cllr Fergal Browne and seconded by Cllr Charlie Murphy. 

The motion was passed with 15 votes for the motion and 3 votes against. 

Here's how councillors voted on the motion for no increase to the LPT: 

Cllr Jim Deane (against)

Cllr Fergal Browne (for)

Cllr John Cassin (against)

Cllr Andrea Dalton (for)

Cllr Walter Lacey (for)

Cllr Ken Murnane (for)

Cllr Brian O'Donoghue (for)

Cllr William Paton (for)

Cllr John Pender (for)

Cllr Fintan Phelan (for)

Cllr Charlie Murphy (for) 

Cllr Michael Doran (for) 

Cllr Denis Foley (for)

Cllr Andy Gladney (against)

Cllr Thomas Kinsella (for)

Cllr Arthur McDonald (for)

Cllr John Murphy (for)

Cllr Willie Quinn (for)

A letter from the Council's Chief Executive, Kathleen Holohan, was sent to councillors advising them that if they don’t increase the levy "the current level of services will be affected".

However, the missive reads that if the local representatives up it by the maximum 15% it would mean an extra €597,000 for the local authority.

The letter states: "Assuming no reduction in income from Commercial Rates and Local Property Tax in 2019 at this point in time additional funding in the sum of € 876,000 is required to balance the 2019 draft budget.

"The €876,000 arises due to increases in day to day business costs and expectations in relation to enhanced service provision, national pay agreements, pension costs and additional posts within the organisation."

It added: "During 2018 it was necessary for me to recruit additional staff resources to ensure that the Council was in a position to meet our obligations to deliver on the targets and policy initiatives set out in the Government's housing policy and to meet increased demands in the area of Economic Development." 

Some of the additional posts included are a Senior Executive Engineer for the proposed Tullow Municipal District and a Heritage Officer.

Other posts are to enable the Council to implement Government policy such as the new Library Development Strategy and implement recommendations in the Audit Report such as the provision of a Procurement Officer.

Ms Holohan added: "The basic rate of Local Property Tax has not been varied in Carlow since its inception while adjoining counties have applied increases of 10%.

"Additional funding is required in Carlow across all services. The public realm and the overall presentation of the county need enhancing in order to attract outside investment with a particular emphasis on litter management/street cleaning, maintenance of parks/open spaces.

"In the absence of an increase in Commercial Rates the remaining significant source of additional discretionary income in 2019 is an increase in Local Property Tax.

"If the members decide not to increase the Local Property Tax in 2019 the current level of services will be affected. If the members decide to reduce Local Property Tax in 2019, then the current level of services will be significantly reduced and any future assistance from Central Government is unlikely.

"In Carlow 94% of relevant properties fall into the lowest three tax bands and the impact of an increase or reduction in the Local Property Tax is relatively minor on the individual.

"The members are well aware of the demands for enhanced services in the county and despite the unprecedented financial constraints of recent years the council has endeavoured to maintain reasonable standards but as costs increase it is becoming more difficult to maintain those standards. 

"I recommend that Council gives serious consideration to increasing Local Property Tax income in 2019 by adjusting the basic rate upwards by 15%."

A 15% increase in LPT would have cost householders as follows:
Band Increase
0- 100k €13.50 per year
101k - 150k €33.75 per year
151k - 200k €47.25 per year