There will be no increase to the property tax
Members of Kilkenny County Council have voted not to change the rate of property tax which will remain the same for the next 12 months.
Speaking to the Kilkenny People before the meeting Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick said that he could not support any increase in the local property tax.
“Local government is in crisis and the current model of funding is not sustainable. The government needs to realize that if we are to have a properly functioning local government system that is fit for purpose and in a position to deliver services such as housing and community supports we need support from central government, the solution is not taxing families more than they already are”
“The local property tax is an unfair tax that does not take into account ability to pay. Just because an individual or family is living in what is perceived as a nice house does not mean they have the ability to pay. Cllr Fitzpatrick went on to say very often these houses have significant mortgages on them, some are in negative equity. The local property tax takes none of this into account. Increasing the property tax on such households could not be justified in my view.”
Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green Party) proposed a 5% increase but had no seconded him.
Speaking following the meeting Cllr Noonan said that the Council executive had sought a full 15% increase which would have gone some way towards plugging the €1.9 million deficit in the estimates for 2019.
"I can appreciate the position of other members in opting for no change but we are fooling ourselves if we think that services will not be affected by this decision. Sometimes we have to have the courage to be honest with people. I proposed a 5% increase which would have netted an extra €365,000 in income but would have only meant an increase of between €5 and €16 per household per year from the lowest to the highest band.
"In my proposal I wished to increase the library book fund which is among the lowest in the country, offer extra funding to Ossory Youth, Kilkenny Archives and a biodiversity project as well as ensuring that existing grants to communities are maintained. Now unfortunately we face some very difficult decisions in our budget as to what gets cut. I think that we have over stretched ourselves on capital projects and plans to waste money on a temporary car park on the brewery site need to be scrapped. I appreciate that any increase would not be popular but my family is a low income household and we are willing to support these essential community services and give our libraries the resources they need to stay open.
"I fundamentally disagree with the Local Property Tax (LPT) but it's the only mechanism we have to raise revenue. I would urge Minister Phelan to look at alternative funding models for local government such as a site valuation tax and public banking. The valuation for the LPT will not be reviewed until 2020 by which time our already undervalued properties will have escalated to unsustainable levels due to the current housing crisis. What will we do then? I suppose it doesn't matter to government because the election will be over," concluded Cllr Noonan.
Cllr Breda Gardner (Independent) proposed a 5% decrease and was seconded by Melissa O’Neill (Independent).