Cork City Council’s decision not to increase the local property tax (LPT) next year means it will be €777,000 better off — but local householders will face hikes of up to €70 each as a result, depending on the valuation of their home.
City councillors, who have the power to adjust the rate by plus or minus 15% and who cut the rate by 10% last year — voted 19-11 last night to make no adjustment to the reset base rate for 2017.
Their decision means homeowners will pay more and the city council will be €777,000 better off.
The vote followed a brief 20-minute meeting during which council CEO Ann Doherty outlined the council’s draft 2017 budget, and the implications of an adjustment of the LPT rate by plus or minus 15%, as provided for under the legislation.
In a detailed report, Ms Doherty said the draft 2017 budget was prepared with no change to the LPT, and sets out to maintain services and meet the pay rises due under the Haddington Road agreement.
She said that, since the last census, the city’s population has risen by 5.4% to 124,762, bringing with it challenges in terms of provision of services and infrastructure.
She said the continuing reduction in resources available to the council since 2008 has been addressed by significant cuts in staffing levels, improved efficiencies, and rebalancing priorities.
Her report showed that maintaining the rate would leave the council €777,000 better off, that a 15% increase would result in a €2.425m benefit, and that a 15% decrease would result in the loss of €871,000 to the council.
Just two submissions from the public were received — one favouring a 15% increase and the other a 15% decrease.
Ms Doherty then recommended no adjustment to the rate.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and three Independents, Mick Finn, Kieran McCarthy and Thomas Maloney, voted to make no adjustment.
Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould, whose party wanted to cut the rate by the maximum 15%, criticised the complete absence of a debate on the issue.
“If you’re struggling, this increase of €50 or €60 a year, is a lot,” he said. “This is one of the austerity taxes brought in by the previous government. It’s unfair, and doesn’t take into account a person’s ability to pay.”
However, Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon defended the decision as “prudent” and criticised Sinn Fein for its stance.
“People who are in here roaring and shouting for traffic calming, for this and that, are the people who wanted to cut €871,000 from the budget,” he said.
Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer described the vote as an investment in essential services in roads, housing maintenance, environment, and recreation.
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