South Dublin councillors keep 2016 property tax discount

Council chief Daniel McLoughlin says cut means forgoing €4.6m in revenues next year

Homeowners in south Dublin have escaped a rise in their Local Property Tax (LPT) bill for next year after councillors voted to retain the discounted rate for the area.

South Dublin county councillors last year voted to cut the rate of property tax by 15 per cent, the maximum discount permissible. Councillors have decided to apply the same discount in 2016, resulting in no change to homeowners’ tax bills next year.

Council chief executive Daniel McLoughlin said that in applying the full cut, the council was forgoing €4.6 million in revenues next year, which would hamper its ability to fund “enhanced or additional services, develop community facilities or to reduce commercial rates”.

Earlier this month, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said Dublin local authorities could implement the 15 per cent cut without losing central Government funding. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal County Councils have already decided to give the full 15 per cent discount. Dublin City Council will decide tonight if city homeowners will face any increase.

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Financial position

Mr McLoughlin said the Minister’s decision to allow councillors to implement the same cut as last year did not mean South Dublin County Council would be in the same financial position next year if it cut the rate by 15 per cent.

“While parity with the 2015 position suggests parity of service, this does not take account of increased costs in payroll, insurance, materials and general inflation.”

All but one councillor voted to give the full discount, Independent councillor Paul Gogarty, who said the extra money could be used for playgrounds, traffic management, community facilities and to "further our commitments to tackle homelessness and the housing crisis".

“Yet some of those very councillors who turned down the opportunity to obtain more funding are the ones who constantly bemoan the lack of council spending on such community amenities,” he said.

Extra taxes

Fine Gael councillor William Lavelle said the council was right not to hit homeowners with extra taxes. "If councillors such as Paul Gogarty want to see more services delivered then he should be proposing how we can better manage the €220 million budget, not trying to fleece homeowners."

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan will tonight ask city councillors not to give any discount. Dublin city homeowners are the State's biggest payers of the tax. Last year they collectively paid €65.9 million, but if the discount was not applied for 2016 the take would rise to €77.5 million.

The change would mean a house valued in May 2013 at €325,000 with a property tax liability of €497.25 would next year have a bill of €585, while a house valued at €675,000 with a bill of €1,032.75 would see this jump to €1,215.

Mr Keegan wants to spend the money on services including libraries, footpaths and pedestrian crossings, a “dog fouling blitz” and 1916 commemorations. “I consider it timely that the city council should approve a service investment programme, funded through the application of the basic LPT rate.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times