Property tax cut attempt rejected

Councillors in Kerry have rejected a call by Sinn Féin to reduce next year’s property tax bill by the maximum 15% allowable following a plea by management that the council coffers would be under huge strain and services would have to be reduced.

Kerry County Council is already on course for its first budget shortfall in many years next year. The predicted shortfall of €1.5m will largely be because of continuing reductions in central Government funding.

With large numbers of empty shops and businesses, rate revenue is also expected to be down.

Sinn Féin, which has five of the 33 councillors on Kerry County Council, argued that a 15% reduction would save hard-pressed Kerry householders €46 a year and Sinn Féin councillor Toiréasa Ferris said the party was proposing the cut. Postage and other costs could be reduced by the council to offset costs, she said.

However, finance director Angela McAllen rejected the suggestion. Fine Gael councillor Bobby O’Connell also said he wanted services retained.

Councillors voted 22 to nine against the Sinn Féin reduction proposal, with the five Sinn Féin councillors receiving support from the Independent Healy-Rae councillors, Danny and his son Johnny, the Independent councillors Sam Locke and Fianna Fáil councillor John Joe Culloty.

A compromise proposal, put forward by Fianna Fáil’s Michael O’Shea, suggesting that €600,000 of next year’s budget be ring-fenced by management for community and recreational facilities such as playgrounds and walkways, was accepted in principle by county manager Moira Murrell.

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