Authorities in joint effort to pursue homeowners who owe €100 charge

 

LOCAL AUTHORITIES are to begin issuing reminders next month to some 700,000 property owners who have yet to pay the €100 household charge. Failure to pay the levy could lead to legal action, the Local Government Management Agency has warned.

Figures released yesterday by the agency show that 924,884 households have so far paid the charge, the deadline for which was March 31st.

The 2011 Census found there were more than 1.65 million private households in the State, meaning the rate of payment has been some 56 per cent to date.

An analysis of the figures, comparing data on payments from the agency and housing from the census, shows that the most compliant local authority regions were Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, with 76.3 per cent compliance, Kerry (66.2 per cent) and Clare (64.2 per cent).

The lowest rates of payment were recorded in the Waterford City Council (45.5 per cent), Offaly County Council (46.9 per cent) and Louth County Council (47.9 per cent) areas.

The latest figures state that €92.9 million had been collected through the charge as of Wednesday, some €70 million less than the overall target.

The charge was intended to replace the exchequer element of the Local Government Fund, set up in 1999. In 2011, exchequer funding for local authorities was €164 million.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said the revenues expected to be generated by the charge had been factored into the allocations provided to local authorities so far this year.

“If there is a shortfall some sort of reduction will have to be considered,” he said, adding that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had previously said no alternative source of funding was available.

The agency said that, as of March 31st, a total of 884,602 households had paid the charge, a figure which was revised upwards from a total of 805,569 announced at the time.

A further 40,282 properties registered – paying penalties and interest of between €11 and €13 in addition to the €100 charge – after that point, the authority said.

A total of 17,219 properties have been registered for waivers and the agency said it still had some “17,000 applications on hand awaiting resolution”.

The agency said it had begun analysing data to identify those who had not yet paid the charge. A spokeswoman said the Revenue Commissioners, ESB Networks, the Department of Social Protection, Private Residential Tenancies Board and other agencies had agreed to share data in order to identify non-compliant properties.

She said local authorities had powers to bring legal proceedings for non-payment but that those who had not paid would be written to and given a chance to pay before action was taken.

There was widespread anger over the introduction of the charge. A protest march was organised on the second day of the Fine Gael ardfheis in March, with 5,000 people demonstrating outside the party gathering the day before the deadline for payment.