Co Cork homeowners spared property tax increase

Homeowners in Co Cork will not have to pay increased Local Property Tax (LPT) next year after the majority of councillors voted to maintain the status quo.

Co Cork homeowners spared property tax increase

While many said they would like to make a reduction in the LPT, they said they couldn’t do this as the cut in income would result in a reduction in services.

The formal proposal to keep the LPT rate the same for next year was made by Fianna Fáil leader on the council, Cllr Seamus McGrath.

He said while the LPT is “an unfair and inequitable tax because it is replacing funding which used to come from central government,” the council needed the money, not least because it faced having to pay more wages to its staff due to the new national pay agreement.

Mr McGrath said he would like to have been able to propose a reduction, but that would lead to a cut in services and he and his colleagues couldn’t stand over that.

He said any party proposing a reduction should outline where services could be cut, as reducing the LPT by 5% would lead to a loss of income of €2m; a 15% reduction would lead to a loss of €6.1m.

His Fine Gael counterpart, Cllr Kevin Murphy, said his party agreed with the Fianna Fáil proposal.

However, Sinn Féin’s leader on the council, Des O’Grady, wanted a 15% reduction.

He said the LPT doesn’t take any account of people’s ability to pay and if his party was in power, it would abolish the tax.

“We’re well aware of the challenges the council faces and extra money will be needed for the national pay agreement. Government should pay for that,” he said.

Mr O’Grady said the council is sitting on €13m in reserves, is still owed €3.5m by Irish Water, and approximately €6m from businesses which are awaiting commercial rates valuation.

He said if this money was used to prop up services, an LPT reduction could be achieved.

Cllr John Paul O’Shea, speaking on behalf of the independent grouping, said they don’t agree with the LPT as it just replaced government funding to local authorities.

However, he said he couldn’t allow any cuts in it as it would lead to a reduction in services.

Cllr Cathal Rasmussen (Lab) and Cllr Joe Harris (Solidarity) also supported the status quo being maintained.

Cllr Susan McCarthy (FG) said the LPT was brought in to broaden the tax base. “I don’t want to pay it, but I do pay it and support it. People are thrilled to have more public-realm projects for a few cent extra a week,” she said.

Cllr Bob Ryan (FF) said the council was not in a position to put up with any more reductions in services. Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) was critical of those who had said it was an unfair tax, yet had voted not to reduce it.

Just over 90% of houses registered for LPT in the county are in valuation bands less than €250,000.

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