The chairman of South Tipperary County Council is warning that basic services, including water treatment and public lighting across the county could be under threat, because people have not paid the €100 Household Charge.
€1.8 million in funding is being withheld by the government until a significant increase in payments has been made to the County Council, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has decreed.
Chairman John Crosse told The Nationalist that the central funds, which were promised in the annual allocation to the county council, have been withheld until more home owners in Tipperary pay their Household Charge.
The new County Council chairman is now calling on everyone who can to pay the Household Charge, and he hit out at other public representatives who encourage people not to pay, saying it was “irresponsible” and “disappointing.”
A special, full meeting of the County Council is to be held on Friday morning to discuss the way forward for the council.
In a move by Minister Hogan to put the pressure back on local councils to bring in the Household Charge in their own areas, he has informed South Tipperary County Council that €1.8 million in central government funding will not be paid over until the local council have raised their share of the Household Charge.
According to Cllr Crosse, about 60% of home owners in South Tipp have paid the €100 charge, but Minister Hogan wants that figure to be at least 80% before further central funds are released.
“If the money doesn’t come in we all suffer,” Cllr Crosse said this week. “Basic services are in trouble because of the €1.8 million shortfall. Treatment plants, public lighting, housing grants, roads, etc will be affected,” he warned.
He said he understands that paying the charge is difficult for some people, and at Friday’s meeting he hopes to address this by raising the issue of a gradual payment system, similar to those in place for the payment of other bills.
Cllr Crosse said he personally spoke to Minister Hogan last week and he gave a commitment that if the Household Charge money comes in, then he will release the €1.8 million in funding.
“I understand some people don’t like paying because they didn’t get a bill or an invoice. We will be discussing on Friday how we can do that. I understand where people are coming from, some people don’t have the money to pay. Some mechanism should be found to facilitate people who can’t pay.”
Hitting out at the public representatives who have led the campaign against the Household Charge, Cllr Crosse said it was “irresponsible” and that it was putting basic services at risk. “I am disappointed with people advocating non-payment.”
Cllr Crosse went on to say he was positive towards what Minister Hogan was trying to do, pointing out that other countries are paying property taxes. He said if everybody paid their fair share it will be less for everybody in the long term.
Deputy Mattie McGrath, meanwhile, described the actions of Minister Hogan as “bullying” and “ham-fisted.”
The Newcastle based TD, who said he has paid his own Household Charge, said he did not agree with the charge but he has never advocated people refusing to pay, because it is “the law of the land.”
“It’s outrageous. Minister Hogan should have announced this while the Dail was still sitting so we could question him. He made a complete shambles of the Household Charge.”
South Tipperary County Council have a good record for collecting rates and rents, Deputy McGrath pointed out.
He said he would support the local councillors who are meeting on Friday to discuss how to resolve the matter.