John Street, Kilkenny City
There have been calls for Kilkenny County Council to explore selling the now-vacant former 'Meubles' property on John Street, with the value of the site coming under scrutiny at a recent council meeting.
The property was once mooted as a home for a new city library, but this fell through due to a lack of funding. The issue was raised by Cllr Joe Malone at a recent meeting to decide the rate of Local Property Tax for 2018 in Kilkenny, when the Fianna Fail councillor described the building as a ‘white elephant’.
“The former Meubles [site] that cost the council €6 million back in the good old days - and no one has ever occupied it,” he said.
“I suggest we revalue that property, put it on the market, and get the monies earned.”
The council's head of finance Martin Prendiville clarified that were the site sold it would come back in the Capital programme, and would not affect the current €1.8 million shortfall.
However, speaking to the Kilkenny People following that meeting, local TD John McGuinness questioned the management of the local authority regarding that site and a number of others in council ownership. He said said he was ‘amazed’ that the John Street building and around 150 other properties have potential value, and this should be looked at before any potential LPT increase.
“They have no current valuation on the Meubles property - it's essentially the most expensive billboard in the county,” he said.
“They should be showing the valuations of all the properties they have. There must be some sort of return available to them out of the stock of property they hold.”
The Fianna Fail TD said there is substantial money outstanding to the council. The council has arrears in several areas including a total of more than €2.3 million combined in loans, rent and rates arrears. Mr Prendiville told members the council has reduced arrears by over 56%, and are now down to ‘hardcore’ cases.
“Most are engaging with us and we are pushing to close them out," he said.
“There is a balance between waiting for a period of time or putting a business out of business. That is not what we want to do.”
Meanwhile, in the area of development contributions, Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick was aghast that last year there was an excess of €7 million in levies still on the books.
However, chief executive Colette Byrne clarified that development contributions are levied when granted, and paid when the development happens. In many cases, the developments did not materialise.