LAST year Clare County Councillors voted to keep the Local Property Tax at the maximum that can legally be charged, but pressure for a reduction is likely to be high in 2023, as the worst inflation seen in decades is eroding people’s standard of living.
Last year Shannon Independent councillor Gerry Flynn was one of just two members who were against keeping the amount paid by Clare householders at 15% above the standard rate, and at this week’s meeting of the local authority he called for a reduction in 2023.
Prior to last week’s meeting he put a motion on the agenda in which he stated, “I am calling on the Councillors in Clare County Council to reduce the Local Property Tax by 15% when they are making a decision on the new rate.
“Currently homeowners in Clare are paying 15% above the Government’s recommended standard rate as a result of a decision taken by local councillors.
“This unjust tax on homeowners in Clare is placing a huge burden on hard pressed families that are struggling to keep a roof over their heads at this very difficult time and I am appealing to the elected members in Clare to support these people and reduce the tax on their homes,” the motion stated.
He said that it takes “great courage” to take out a mortgage, and that people who do so should be supported.
The independent councillor also said that a lot of people who pay the tax are retired and on fixed incomes.
Councillor Flynn noted that the Council had the option of going at 15% below the standard rate, so setting at 15% above means Clare householders are paying significantly more than could be the case.
He said that it could be brought back to the standard rate in 2023, before going 15% below it for 2024.
Supporting the sentiment, Sinn Féin’s Donna McGettigan said that the impact of the tax is too often minimised.
“It is sometimes equated to a couple of euros a week, but a couple of euros a week is a lot to some families, an awful lot.”
Independent Ann Norton said it was time for councillors to “open our eyes, see what’s coming down the line and support the people that we represent”.
However a number of councillors expressed concern about the motion, saying that they couldn’t make a decision on the property tax at such an early stage, without looking at the impact on the county and its budget. There were also concerns that if the motion passed it would be binding for 2023.
The Council’s CEO Pat Dowling advised that the measure would reduce its income by some €1.5 million and he advised that one part of the budget should not be agreed in isolation from the rest of the process.
Ultimately Councillor Flynn agreed to amend the motion, to one urging the Councillors to consider a reduction in the LPT when a decision is to be made on a new rate, and this passed comfortably.