Longford / Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty
Longford / Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty is confident that the Department of Housing & Local Government will step forward and compensate Longford County Council for the €1m loss in rates arising from the closure of Lanesboro power station.
The recent budget failed to deliver on an application that would compensate Longford and Offaly Co Councils for the €4.7m loss of commercial rates arising from the closure of two power stations.
The Just Transition Commissioner, Kieran Mulvey, has recommended that the Dept of Housing & Local Government engage with the Councils as part of the Estimates process. However, the funding was not secured.
According to Joe Flaherty TD: “We have subsequently been assured by the Department of Housing who have advised that the €1m due to Longford County Council can be found within the Department allocation for 2021, provided the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform has no objection.”
In 2019, Lanesboro accounted for some 15% of Longford County Council rates income, and Shannonbridge accounted for approximately 20% of Offaly County Council’s rates income.
Said Deputy Flaherty: “The Department recognises the extremely severe impact that the closure of these plants will have on income and is cognisant of the fact that even if there was no Covid-19 pandemic, it would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, to make up this income from the other ratepayers in the counties. It is also recognised that the plants are reliable ratepayers, which highlights their importance.”
Added Deputy Flaherty, it would not feasible to use either of the tools ordinarily available to counteract such loses – either increase in rates or LPT charges.
Said the Longford TD: “I am aware that the budget includes a provision of €600m for the six months commercial rates waiver but it seems the final estimate from Finance Directors is for €521m so there is a €79m over accrual and sufficient head room there in to resolve what is a major funding headache for Longford Co Council.”