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Longford County Council facing €300k property tax deficit

The offices of Longford County Council. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie

The offices of Longford County Council. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie

Longford County Council will be forced into finding over €300,000 from its own cash reserves if councillors agree to pass on a 15 per cent property tax reduction to households.

Head of Finance Barry Lynch warned the local authority would have to ensure around €330,000 is taken from within its own budget in order to stomach the likely concession.

He said the figures were largely based on the €2.2m Longford County Council expects to take in from homeowners by the end of the year.

“The 15 per cent (property tax reduction), based on €2.2m would amount to €330,000 in relation to what will have to be found in the council’s own resources,” he said.

Under property tax law brought in last year, councils were given the power to increase or decrease local rates by up to 15 per cent depending upon their financial position.

This, however, has yet to be finalised given the six figure hole which will result should councillors agree to it.

The call for a property tax rebate had been called for by Fine Gael’s Micheal Carrigy.

He later changed the wording of his initial motion and asked for it to be deferred until next month when Longford’s allocation from central government is made known.

Perhaps not surprisingly, members among the Government’s main opposition party, Fianna Fail hit out at the Government and in particular Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

“It took pressure off the Minister by introducing a 15 per cent cut,” said Cllr Martin Mulleady.

“If he had to take the cut on himself, he would have had to come up with the money from some other department.”

“It’s a cowardly act by the Minister again.”

Independent Councillor, Gerry Warnock said the council were effectively being backed into a corner over the issue.

“It’s a poisoned chalice for the council. Where are we going to get the money (€330,000) from? Cllr Warnock asked.

Those fears, along with the concerns of how smaller sized councils, are expected to withstand property tax reductions, will now be sent to Mr Hogan’s office over the coming days.

 

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