Anger as Tipperary homeowners facing 10% increase to property tax

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

Anger as Tipperary homeowners facing 10% increase to property tax

Tipperary homeowners facing a ten per cent hike in property tax in 2018.

Tipperary Co. Council's elected members have approved a 10% increase in the Local Property Tax levy that householders throughout the county will have to pay for 2018. 

The controversial tax hike was approved by a vote of 22 councillors to 14 at the Council's monthly meeting in Clonmel. 

The vote followed two hours of deliberation and heated debate and the hike was passed because of warnings from Council management that there would be cuts to local authority services next year if the increase wasn't sanctioned. 

However some members have reacted angrily to the increase and criticised the claim that services could be be hit without the extra funding.

Co. Council CEO Joe MacGrath warned he couldn't ensure the same level of funding to services like the county's arts centres and leisure centres if additional income from the Local Property Tax wasn't raised. 

He also warned councillors that if the tax increase wasn't approved, the local authority would be forced to cut its funding for roads and housing maintenance and the General Municipal Allowance for Municipal Districts from which community groups ranging from burial grounds committees and sports clubs to tidy towns groups receive Council grant aid. 

Fine Gael and all but one of the Fianna Fail councillors voted in favour of the increase.  Labour's Cllr Fiona Bonfield and four Independents Cllrs Tom Wood, Eddie O'Meara, Jim Ryan and Joe Hannigan also voted for the LPT variation. The tax hike was opposed by the Council's five Sinn Fein councillors, FF Cllr Kieran Bourke, WUAG Cllr Pat English and Independent councillors Denis Leahy, Richie Molloy, Andy Moloney, Martin Lonergan, Michael Lowry, Michael O'Meara and Eddie Moran. 

The 10% LPT hike will bring in a projected extra €1.1829m revenue to the Council. 

For households in the first LPT Valuation Band of houses valued up to €100,000 it will mean translate to a €9 increase in the tax. Householderin the €100,001 to €150,000 valuation band face a €22.50 increase while home owners in properties valued at between €150,000 and €200,000 will have an extra €31.50 added to their property tax bill. 

See next week's edition of The Nationalist for full report on the Council's Local Property Tax debate.

Independnt member Martin Lonergan said a  lot of pressure was put on the elected representatives to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT).

He said  - "We were advised that if not passed, it would result in a funding problem for various things administered by the Local Authority. As I have said since my election, I would oppose any increases and I did just that.

" I do not agree that a cut to services, as a threat, is necessary. Supposedly,  when the Town Councils were abolished and the county amalgamated, we would see massive savings. Where are these savings and why can't the Local Authority give us a break down as to where they were made the past 3 years and reassigned? 

"We do not need to be inflicting further taxation on hard-pressed families, and the elderly who have suffered so many cuts in recent years. Needless to say, due to the voting arrangements on the Council the motion was passed 22 votes to 14 to increase this tax by 10%."

Sinn Fein councillor Martin Browne said he wanted to "express my disgust at the antics of the Chairperson, the CEO and the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour councillors at the meeting. 

"This grouping requested a 15 minutes adjournment and this was granted. This lasted for an hour and a half while the other councillors,  the officials and the Tipperary Comhairle na nOg sat in the chamber", he said.

 Cllr Browne said he rejects the claim that they needed time to consider their decision to increase the local property tax. 

"These parties had a full week from the budget workshop to come to agreement. This was nothing other than a smokescreen for the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael pact which finished up voting in favour of the 10% increase."