CLARE county councillors have voted to slash the Local Property Tax (LPT) by 15% following a special meeting of theb local authority on Friday morning.
An alliance of Fianna Fáil councillors and some members of the so-called Technical Group ensured the maximum reduction will be passed on to property owners in Clare next January after it was passed by 17 votes to ten.
The reduction, which prompted some heated exchanges during the meeting, was supported by 11 Fianna Fáil councillors, Sinn Féin Councillor Mike McKee as well as Independents Gerry Flynn, James Breen, Ann Norton, Michael Begley and P J Ryan.
Two members of the Technical Group – long serving Independent councillor Christy Curtin and Ian Lynch broke ranks by opting to oppose the cut with eight Fine Gael councillors.
The council’s chief executive, Tom Coughlan told councillors in a report on the “Local Property Tax Local Adjustment Factor” a sum of €1.56 million would be available for additional services in drafting the 2015 Budget Estimates if the authority decided not to vary the LPT rate.
Before the vote was taken, Mr Coughlan outlined that a 15% cut would mean that there would be no discretional funding available to meet the costs of increased levels of services and or additional projects.
However, in framing the 2015 Budget in these circumstances, he pledged the council would try to deliver the same level of services as this year.
There were calls for Clare’s Oireachtas members to lobby for a much fairer redistribution of the LPT receipts of €10.4 million in the county amid claims that 80% of this would be diverted to other local authorities, contrary to previous Government promises.
Proposing the cut, Councillor P J Kelly insisted Clare County Council had to take a stand against the current system, which he claimed penalised efficient authorities like his council to reward inefficient authorities throughout the country.
Councillor Joe Cooney said it was a “sad day” that local councillors were forced to make a decision of giving on average 50 cent a day back to property owners at the expense of having an extra €1.5 million to deliver services to local people.
When the debate concluded, the proposed reduction was passed by a majority of seven votes.
Councillors in all 31 local authorities across the State have the right to vary local property tax by up to 15 per cent from next year.
Local authorities have been advised by the Department of the Environment they had to meet the September 30th deadline to tell the Revenue Commissioners what level of cut, or increase, they intend to apply, if any.
Some authorities like Cork County Council voted to give a 10% reduction in the LPT.