Cork council commits to 15% cut on property tax

 Phil Hogan: Criticised for reneging on promises.
Phil Hogan: Criticised for reneging on promises.

Cork County Council has become the first local authority to commit to cutting the local property tax (LPT) by 15%.

The council has the discretion to consider a cut but fears were expressed yesterday it could have a knock-on effect on the provision of services due to a likely €6m shortfall in the council’s coffers.

Sinn Féin proposed a LPT reduction, saying it was what the hard-pressed public was demanding.

By the end of discussions in County Hall, Fine Gael members agreed with other parties to a 15% cut.

However, officials emphasised they were awaiting department guidelines on LPT allocations which will, possibly, be dependent on local property owners’ compliance rates.

Sinn Féin councillor Melissa Mullane accused Environment Minister Phil Hogan of reneging on a promise last year to use 80% of the money generated through LPT in each county to fund local infrastructural development.

Instead, she accused the minister of pumping the money into Irish Water.

The motion was seconded by her party colleague, Donnchadh Ó Laoighre, who said the tax did not take account of a person’s ability to pay.

Fine Gael councillor Gerard Murphy said all councillors would love to implement a cut but already faced tight budgets. He said a 15% cut could cost €6m yearly and feared services would be reduced.

He said the council, in recent years, had to “dig deeply into its reserves” to balance the books.

Independent councillor Tim Collins said the Government had to provide local authorities with proper funding and could raise tax on alcohol and cigarettes.

Fine Gael councillor Tim Lombard said it was premature to announce an LPT cut until councillors saw exactly what percentage of the overall LPT take was given back to local authorities.

Council CEO Tim Lucey said the council would seek public submissions on the issue in mid-July and had to decide by September 30.

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