Dún Laoghaire councillors intend 15% cut in property tax

Public consultation process on Local Property Tax to begin

 Cllr Melissa Halpin (PBP) labelled the Local Property Tax motion as cynical. The two parties that had introduced the  tax had now come along to reduce it, she said, but they had “no clue how poor people feel”. Photograph:  Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Cllr Melissa Halpin (PBP) labelled the Local Property Tax motion as cynical. The two parties that had introduced the tax had now come along to reduce it, she said, but they had “no clue how poor people feel”. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 19:33

Councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have voted unanimously to commit to a 15 per cent reduction in Local Property Tax in their next budget.

The vote was not a formal legal decision and can only be implemented after public consultation.

The local authority had the highest compliance with the Local Property Tax in the country. Some 97 per cent of householders paid the bill, averaging a payment of €686 each and totalling €58.1 million.

County manager Philomena Poole told councillors the public consultation process on varying the tax would begin with advertisements this week.

She said a decision on the tax could only be made when the procedures and requirements set out in the relevant legislation had been followed.

Councillors would have to consider the council’s income and expenditure for the coming year, as well as the council’s financial position and the effect any reduction in the property tax might have on it.

She said the council needed clarity from the Department of Environment and Local Government about whether the council would retain 80 per cent of the Local Property Tax and what level of other grant or subsidy funding will be available.

Cllr Neale Richmond (FG), who tabled a motion on the issue, said the tax discriminates against the Dublin region. He noted the statutory procedure would have to be gone through, but said the council was sending “a very clear message of intent” to reduce the tax by supporting the motion.

Cllr Deirdre Kingston (Lab), who also tabled a separate motion to reduce the tax, said the county was luckier than most because of its high compliance rate. She said she would welcome the public consultation process.

But Cllr Melissa Halpin (PBP) labelled the motion as cynical. The two parties that had introduced property tax had now come along to reduce it, she said, but they had “no clue how poor people feel”.

The tax should be abolished and replaced with a wealth tax, she said, but she agreed to support the motion on the basis it would reduce the tax.

Cllr Mary Hanafin (FF) also said she would support the motion, but wanted to be sure commercial rates would not go up as a consequence.

In other business, Cllr Richard Humphreys (Lab) came in for criticism from fellow councillors during a discussion of a policy document drawn up by the council’s new alliance between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

Mr Humphreys described the document as “relatively harmless” and said there was “nothing in it”. Cllr Maria Bailey (FG) suggested Mr Humphreys was bitter from “the break-up” with her party, and Cllr Barry Ward described his comments as the “wails of a spurned lover”.

In defence of his colleague, Peter O’Brien (Lab) welcomed the “coalescing of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil”.

“I think their ideologies suit each other,” he said.