Local property tax and accountability

 

Sir, – I live in Co Galway and work in Galway city. I got my local property tax demand this year which increased by about 10 per cent compared to prior years, without any explanation for why it increased and what my tax would be spent on. Likewise I got a hefty commercial rates bill from the city without any explanation about the purpose for which the proceeds would be applied.

By comparison, I owned a small apartment for a while in the US, for which I had to pay a sizable annual local property tax. I got a statement every year some months before the tax was due, itemising how my tax was going to be spent, ie of the total amount that I owed, how much was to be spent on police, how much on schools, so much on roads, how much on parks, and so on. I could compare from year to year what had increased and what had decreased. I could also have attended hearings of the city council where the projected budget was debated, and I could have made submissions or representations at those sessions, if I wished.

There appears to be no accountability to their constituents by local councils for how money is spent and for what reason local taxes are increased or decreased. If there were, it would help me to feel more involved as a citizen and more informed about the cost of the services that are provided. It would also enable a comparison between counties and municipalities of similar size and demographic to see what could be learned from other places or where inefficiencies might be identified that could be corrected. – Yours, etc,

PHILIP JAMES,

Barna,

Co Galway.