The rate of Local Property Tax (LPT) is to increase by 15%, the first increase in the tax since April 2012. The decision to increase the LPT sharply divided councillors at a meeting on Monday afternoon with the controlling alliance of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Independents Laurence Fallon and Tom Crosby supporting the measure, with the non-aligned members opposed. Director of services Martin Lydon said the council forecast a deficit of €250,000 in its budget this year. He told the meeting that 56% of households in the county were paying approximately €90 a year. Mr Lydon said the council had collected €4m per annum in Local Property Tax. Of the 56% households paying the lower rate, he said the rise equated to €13 a year or 26 cents a week. He stressed that the authority had received no submissions from the public following a recent consultation process. Mr Lydon warned that if the LPT rate was not increased, the local authority would struggle to deliver services. Cllr Orla Leyden said the rise would ensure 5% of funds raised would be ringfenced for local services such as hedge trimming and street cleaning. However, Cllr Tony Ward said he was proposing “no increase” claiming the ringfencing of 5% of funds raised was a token gesture. Cllr Michael Mulligan supported Cllr Ward, claiming “this is the worst time to be looking for money. The country is on its knees. There’s not a spare shilling in the county. I propose leaving the rate as it is.”
Cllr Tom Crosby supported the hike. “We (the council) can’t stand idly by and see services decrease in the county.” His colleague, Cllr Laurence Fallon, who is also part of the controlling alliance holding the balance of power on the local authority, also supported the increase. On a proposal of Cllr Orla Leyden, members voted by ten to eight to increase the LPT. A proposal by Cllr Tony Ward calling for the retention of the current LPT rate was not considered following the adoption of Cllr Leyden’s proposal.