Carlow County Council offices on the Athy Road
Local representatives of Carlow County Council have voted to increase the Local Property Tax in Carlow by 5% from January 1 of next year.
A special meeting of Carlow County Council was held on Monday in the Council Chamber to set a Local Adjustment Factor in accordance with the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012.
There were heated discussions in the Council chamber over the proposed 5% increase, even though the Council's chief executive, Kathleen Holohan, had sought a 15% increase to help balance the local authority's budget.
The motion for the 5% increase on Monday was proposed by Cllr Tommy Kinsella and seconded by Cllr Fintan Phelan.
The Council's Budget 2020 has a deficit of €343,400 mainly created by the loss of appeals at the Rates Tribunal, according to Cllr Will Paton.
Cllr Phelan confirmed that the LPT 5% rise will bring in an additional €200,000 in revenue - which still leaves a shortfall in the budget.
Members can increase the LPT by anything up to 15% - the maximum increase permissable.
Cllr Kinsella said talking to people they don't mind a small increase as long it is used to tackle issues in the county like littering and that was why they went with a 5% rise.
Cllr Phelan said: "5% will bring in just under €200,000 for this County Council. There's no doubt we would like that to come from Central Government. But the Director of Finance and county manager have told us that that funding is not forthcoming.
"We can't just print money ourselves. This Council is €343,000 less than what it needs."
The proposal for a 5% increase was passed by a roll call vote and passed by 12 votes for, five against and one councillor was absent.
Here's how members voted:
Cllr Fergal Browne (For)
Cllr John Cassin (Against)
Cllr Andrea Dalton (For)
Cllr Michael Doran (For)
Cllr Andy Gladney (Against)
Cllr Tommy Kinsella (For)
Cllr Arthur McDonald (For)
Cllr John Murphy (For)
Cllr John McDonald (For)
Cllr Ken Murnane (For)
Cllr Charlie Murphy (For)
Cllr Brian O'Donoghue (For)
Cllr Tom O'Neill (Absent)
Cllr Will Paton (Against)
Cllr John Pender (For)
Cllr Fintan Phelan (For)
Cllr Willie Quinn (Against)
Cllr Adrienne Wallace (Against)
The increase means that 38% of properties in Carlow will pay an extra 8 cent a week on their LPT while 37% will pay an extra 21 cent in 2020.
Cllr Adrienne Wallace proposed a reduction in the tax by 15% - which is the maximum amount councillors can decrease the charge - as she says the charge is "deeply unfair" and "dated".
"We have bailed out bankers but when it comes to ordinary people we're prepared to go after them," as she hit out at the Council and the Government.
The proposal was seconded by Cllr Will Paton but was defeated by a roll call vote of the seventeen members present with twelve members voting against it.
Cllr Paton said Local Government has been "castrated" by Central Government over the last few years.
"The root cause is the continuing failure of Central Government to address the proper financial needs of Local Government.
"Any increase is completely unacceptable. Increasing the charge in 2020 would be unfair and unjust."
Cllr Phelan said the proposal for a 15% reduction would see a drop of over half a million euro in the Council's budget and "people will lose employment" and the money being spent will be down and a number of services "will be gone".
Cllr Wallace said the comments were "scaremongering" and there were a number of ways to make up the shortfall from a 15% decrease in the LPT.
Cllr Willie Quinn said it was a "very sad day" after Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael came into power and "their first go after telling the people in the Local Elections that they would not rise it and they rise the LPT".
"The sooner a General Election comes, the better," he added.
Cllr Michael Doran said a 15% increase was "a step too far" and he wouldn't accept it while Cllr Andrea Dalton said Carlow has been "very badly treated" by funding from Central Government.
She added that they had to increase the LPT as they cannot stand over services being cut but called on the Government to treat Carlow fairly.
She added: "Carlow gets €6.1m from LPT allocations while Leitrim and Longford get €8.9m each despite Carlow having 56,000 of a population and Longford has 48,000 and Leitrim 32,000."
In the previous years since the tax was introduced, the members in Carlow have opted not to vary it, despite the exhortations of the executive.
The Council received no submissions from the public prior to the special meeting on Monday after they put the matter out to public consultation.