Longford Households saving 5c a week from Local Property Tax

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

The pay and file season will get under way soon for Local Property Tax due in 2015.

Homeowners across the county are saving an average of 5c a week in property tax reductions introduced by Longford County Council.

Since 2015, two years after the controversial levy was introduced, elected members reserve the right to vary Local Property Tax (LPT) rates by up to a maximum of 15 per cent.

Last October, councillors approved a three per cent rate variation in an attempt to ease the financial burden facing cash strapped householders.

However, at a meeting of the local authority last week, representatives were told of how the cuts were trimming just over €2 per year from household bills while at the same time eroding €63,000 each year from the Council’s financial reserves.

They were disclosures which not for the first time drew sceptical appraisals from several bemused looking members.

“I don’t see the economics in it,” said an indignant Cllr Ger Farrell.

“It’s saving households an average of €2.40c where it is costing us (County Council) €63,000.

“If householders were really honest and looked at their finances they would say they have a lot more problems than saving €2.40c.”

His Lanesboro based counterpart, Cllr Mark Casey adopted a more austere tone.

He said much had been made of the LPT upon its well documented introduction four years ago with a number of local politicians appearing to backtrack on previously stated pledges to introduce a maximum 15 per cent reduction.

“A lot of councillors had this on their election manifestos,” he claimed.

“They flip flopped on it and now they are trying to flip flop again on it.

“It’s very hypocritical for some people to bring it up now when the right time is to bring it up at budget time.”

Listening on, Fianna Fáil's PJ Reilly said while he agreed in principle with Cllr Casey's contention, it was imperative councillors “marked their cards” when the topic is fully aired.

“We are saving people out there 5c a week and yet it is costing this council €190,000 over the last three years which could have been used as an extra project in every one of our areas (municipal districts),” he asserted.

Cllr Reilly said the losses imparted on a local authority like Longford was not economically viable in the long term, adding it was important elected members stood “united” on the issue.

That invoked a less than auspicious retort from Cllr Casey.

“You wrote off €4m in rates and you are worried about €63,000? Ah now, come on,” he shouted back at Cllr Reilly.

Despite those hostilities, much credit was given to the Council's top table for its work in ensuring Longford was now one of the best performing local authorities in the country.

Buoyed by a revenue surplus of in excess of €170,000, a string of compliments were passed over the rude financial health the Council now found itself in.

“It's an absolute credit to yourself John (McKeon) and the prudence of the (Council's) management team,” said Cllr Gerry Warnock.

"It's a very solid foundation to have going into 2017 when we have massive plans to develop Longford as a place for tourism, enterprise and business.”

Equally inviting acclaim was espoused by Cllr Martin Mulleady.

Leaning forward in his chair and sporting a playful grin, the Fianna Fáil Cllr gave some editorial advice to the onlooking media.

“This is a good news story and I think it should go on the front page of the Longford Leader instead of all this negative publicity that is out there.

“It's important people know that we are in the top ten (financially performing) councils and that there is not this negativity out there (public domain) the whole time.”