Cllr Gerald Farrell
Department of Environment chiefs need to consider re-adjusting Local Property Tax (LPT) valuation bands or run the risk of pushing hard pressed taxpayers into the red.
The warning was one which was delivered at last week's monthly meeting of Longford County Council by Cllr Gerald Farrell.
The Fine Gael representative said the variance between the lowest and highest rate bands was too financially onerous on many elderly homeowners.
“Pensioners for example that are living in a 200 to 300 year old house and have other bills to pay, they are the ones most affected,” he said.
Cllr Farrell made his remarks in light of the gap between the lowest valuation band of 0-€100,000 and their corresponding €100-150,000 and €150,000 to €200-000 equivalents.
According to Revenue, owners on the lowest rate currently pay a €90 charge with €225 and €315 amounts being due for those on the consequent two rate bands.
Those variances led Cllr Farrell to issue a plea for a middle band to be inserted.
“These people are trying to make ends meet on a small income and it's in support if those people that I decided to table this motion,” he told the meeting.
Cllr Micheal Carrigy said he too believed there was a need for government intervention on the matter.
Indepedent Cllr Mae Sexton agreed, saying Cllr Farrell's intervention was especially pertinent.
“It's definitely timely with house prices going up,” she commented.
Cllr John Browne, meanwhile, suggested there should be no changes to the LPT until 2022 at the earliest.
Others, like Cllr Gerry Warnock asked if councils like Longford could find themselves financially exposed if rates increase on foot of property price rises.
“We are a county that heavily depends on the equalisation fund,” he maintained.
“If our yield in respect of LPT increases due to house increases, will that be of mutual benefit to the Council?” Cllr Warnock asked.
Head of Finance John McKeon replied, indicating it was his belief that whatever additonal monies which may come from LPT returns would stay within the county.
On foot of Cllr Farrell's calls for a middle LPT valuation to be inserted, Mr McKeon vowed that Longford County Council would make those feelings known through written correspondence over the coming days.