A politician has urged local authority tenants in Cork City not to pay a new boiler tax.
Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry, a prominent figure in the Cork campaign against property and water taxes, was criticised for his stance.
“Cork City Council is legally obliged to service these boilers whether the tax is paid or not. I would urge our tenants to ‘take note’ of this,” he said.
In Cork City, the council used to carry out biennial maintenance on the gas boilers installed in the homes of its 8,200 tenants.
However, new landlord regulations on heating standards have forced the council to adopt a boiler maintenance regime.
It introduced a €103 annual boiler maintenance charge for its tenants in its budget last December to cover the cost of the work.
The charge was described by Sinn Féin as an effective rent increase.
During a debate at a council meeting on Monday, Cllr Tom Gould (SF) said this charge, coupled with the abolition of some waivers, will hit those already stretched to the financial limit.
However, Mr Barry went a step further and effectively encouraged the council’s tenants to boycott the tax.
Cllr Ken O’Flynn (FF) slated him, and said that as a “director” of Cork City, Mr Barry should be urging people to pay what is owed.
City manager Tim Lucey declined to discuss Mr Barry’s comments but said it was important that the council stuck to the budget it agreed last December.
“It is important that we are facilitated in that regard,” he said.
“I hope our tenants recognise the importance of having their boilers serviced.”
If the council did not introduce the boiler charge, Mr Lucey said he would have to find €803,000 elsewhere. And he warned of difficult decisions if there is a shortfall in the expected income from the boiler charge.
“I will be keeping a close eye on this myself.”
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