Council reject motion to reduce Local Property Tax

'Move would cost €1.6m' - Council

Eamonn McFadden

Reporter:

Eamonn McFadden

Email:

eamonn.mcfadden@donegaldemocrat.com

Council reject motion to reduce Local Property Tax

Cllr. Gerry McMonagle tabled the motion saying tax was “unjust”.

A motion to have Local Property Tax in Donegal lowered by 15% has been rejected at a meeting of the Donegal County Council yesterday in favour of retaining the current tax level.

Sinn Féin Letterkenny area Councillor Gerry McMonagle tabled the motion saying tax was “unjust” and a “smokescreen” by the Government and the whole area of how local Government is funded needed a “radical change”.

He said as a party they were “totally opposed” to the levy and were seeking to lower it by 15%.

The motion was seconded by Sinn Féin Cllr Mick Quinn who said 15% was the maximum reduction they were entitled to seek, otherwise he would have proposed a reduction of 30% on the tax.

Cllr Barry O’Neill opposed the motion saying that he and his party colleagues in Fine Gael were proposing they maintain the current level of Local Development Tax in place by the local authority. He said if it was reduced it would leave a “huge gap to fill”.

Fianna Fail's Cllr Ciaran Brogan said the council had dealt with “a lot of challenging times” in recent years but that he opposed the reduction .

“I don’t think we can and that is the reality of it because of the services and staff we have," he said.

Cllr Martin Farren highlighted that 80% of the revenue raised by the tax remained in the county while the 20% when into a “central pot”, known as an equalization fund, which the county “did quite well from”.

Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh said the saving would be “small to many households” but would be a significant loss to the council.

Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely, said the funding formed part of “key building blocks” for their annual budget in the year ahead and was part of a “broad approach to at least maintain the level of capacity” they local authority has.

The proposal would result in a loss of €1.627 million, the meeting heard.

Mr Neely added that while Donegal did retain 80% of the tax he added the county was also the biggest recipient of “equalization” funding nationally.

Director of Service, Joe Peoples, sought a vote to see if the members were either for, or against, the proposal to vary the tax.

The motion was defeated with 17 member being against the motion, nine were for it, while there was two abstentions.