CLARE County Councillors have decided to adopt a Local Property Tax (LPT) at 15% above the standard rate for next year, despite an appeal from one councillor to reduce this charge.
Last year, councillors agreed to increase the LPT 15% above the standard rate and this was retained again this year without a vote following a meeting in Glór on Monday.
However, councillors have warned the General Municipal Allocation (GMA) must be retained at this same level to support community projects this year, which could prove to be extremely difficult for the local authority following a huge decline in its income stream due to the devastating impact of Covid-19.
Councillor Donna McGettigan proposed the council should reduce the LPT rate in view of the uncertain times facing householders some of whom were in mortgage arrears. Her proposal was not seconded or supported by any other councillor.
The need to increase the GMA considering the key role it plays in the delivery of services was stressed by Councillor Gerry Flynn while Councillor Pat Hayes criticised the annual transfer of €2.03 million in local LPT revenue to the national equalisation fund and stressed that all money collected in the county should be retained and spent there.
He was supported by Councillor Alan O’Callaghan, who claimed the council has lost more than €14 million in LPT income since 2013 and was being “punished for being top of the class” and keeping their books in order while other local authorities were effectively rewarded for not spending money in a prudent manner.
Councillor P J Kelly stressed the GMA allocation has to be maintained, as every €1 spent in local communities generated another €5.
The Lissycasey Councillor warned he was supporting the LPT rate on the basis there would be no reduction in services provided in rural Clare.
He said every effort must be made by the local authority to get the government to cover the additional expenditure on Covid-19 that hasn’t been covered to date.
Chief executive Pat Dowling confirmed the authority are working to maximise its support from government and asked Councillor Kelly to use his influence with the Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
The chief executive said he would be meeting Clare’s seven Oireachtas members next week to secure their support for funding to cover the impact of Covid-19 on the authority’s finances.
In his report for members, he warned the preparation of Budget 2021 would present significant challenges as the authority monitor the impact of the pandemic and the recovery of the local economy.
He outlined if the LPT rate was reduced to the standard rate in 2021, there would be €1.5 million less to fund local authority services.
“Nine out of ten households would see minimal savings of less than 91 cent per week for this reduction to funding. If this income is lost, members as part of the draft 2021 budget process may need to review service delivery, discretionary spend areas or income sources to balance a budget.”
The total number of Clare properties that are liable for LPT in the first six months of this year was 53,447, according to the Revenue Commissioners.
Current statistics supplied by the Revenue indicate 20,685 properties are valued at less than €100,000, 11,886 are valued between €100,000 and €150,000; 9,470 are in the €150,000 to €200,000 bracket; 910 are in the €250,000 to €300,000 band and 696 are valued at in excess of €300,000.