Council will reverse funding cuts if household tax targets are met

Reversing cuts to libraries and community groups will be a priority if certain household tax compliance targets are met, Cork’s city manager has said.

Tim Lucey made his comments after Phil Hogan, the environment minister, told council managers that funding cuts could be minimised if local authorities collect a certain level of household tax over the coming weeks.

In a circular, Mr Hogan said the final quarterly instalment of the reduced general purpose grant (GPC) will feature a cut reflecting household charge compliance rates in each local authority area.

The minister said:

* For city and county councils with compliance rates greater than 65%, no further deduction will be made.

* For councils with compliance rates between 60% and 65%, a further deduction equal to 0.5% of the initial GPG allocation will be made.

* For councils with compliance rates below 60%, a further cut equal to 1% of the initial GPG allocation will be made.

* And for town and borough councils, no deduction will be made.

The reduced GPG forced Mr Lucey to introduce a €1.25m cuts and savings package two weeks ago, cutting funding to arts and community groups, and axing the library network’s book-buying programme.

He told Monday’s council meeting that the €446,103 withheld from the third quarter GPG payment cannot be recovered.

However, he said Mr Hogan’s circular provides an opportunity for the council to recover a significant portion of the proposed cuts when the final instalment is paid. “In this context, it is important that the general public and house owners understand the impact of the non-payment of the charge, but particularly the positive impact that an increased level of payment could have on service delivery,” he said.

Some 26,000 Cork City households liable for the tax have paid — a compliance rate of about 63%. Mr Lucey said if that rate improves, it would be a priority to reverse the cuts to groups and libraries.

He said those who haven’t paid will be pursued.

However, Cllr Mick Barry (SP), a leading figure in the anti-household charge urged those who haven’t paid the charge to “hang tough”.

But Cllr Terry Shannon (FF) criticised the lobby: “Don’t be cribbing about cuts when you’re going out there telling people not to pay.”

Cllr Tim Brosnan (FF) accused central government of “robbing” communities. “I am appalled at this and we should make it known to the minister that he is not welcome in this city at this point in time,” he said.

But Cllr Joe O’Callaghan (FG) said it’s “a bit Irish and a bit ironic” for Mr Brosnan to make such comments.

“For 15 years they [FF] pillaged and raped this country financially. They are the creators of the disastrous condition we’re in,” he said.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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