LIMERICK homeowners will see no change in their Local Property Tax (LPT) bills in 2019.
Councillors voted at County Hall this Monday to increase the LPT by 7.5 per cent from the base rate for 2019, which means there will be no change to the LPT next year.
Every year the LPT automatically returns to the base rate with councillors able to alter the LPT by between 15 per cent of the baseline rate.
Councillors voted 18 to 17 in favour of Fianna Fail’s proposal for a 7.5 per cent increase, which means homeowners in Limerick will see no change in their LPT for 2019. This move resulted in the fall of Fine Gael’s proposal to charge the baseline plus 10 per cent and a proposal from Sinn Fein and Solidarity to cut 15 per cent in the baseline payment.
Councillors were reminded that in 2018 funds amounting to €1.175 million, as a result of the 7.5 per cent increase from baseline, has resulted in investments in Local and Regional Roads, Traffic Management, Street Cleaning, Maintenance of Parks, Pitches and Open Spaces, Library Service, Fire Service and Tourism Development and Promotion.
“Local Property Tax goes to tax-exempt banks and to bail out the investors,” Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh declared.
“Two months before our budget, we are working blind without a single figure in front of us. How can we make budget decisions like this? It is mindless, economic blindness.”
Chief executive officer Conn Murray told him he wasn’t listening to “political statements and inaccuracies” before pointing out the impact this additional investment has across the city and county.
Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville described the LPT as a “regressive tax”.
Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin wasn’t impressed.
“Ye would make anyone sick listening to ye. There isn’t a person in the country that likes to pay tax but we have to do it if we want services,” he pointed out.
Independent councillor Richard O’Donoghue took the same view and said that projects across the city and county would not be carried out without the additional funding from the LPT.
“We have to look at the big picture. I am a businessperson and I see this as a business model. It is the gravy on top and we get an awful lot done with it,” he added.
Sinn Fein councillor Seamus Browne felt that people’s ability to pay was not taken into account. He suggested a wealth tax would be more appropriate.
“This is a lazy tax, an easy tax to extract from the masses. It is wrong to tax someone’s home. No effort has been made to reform it or make it more palatable. It should be abolished,” Cllr Browne insisted.
“You’d spend the money though, Seamus,” Fianna Fail councillor Michael Collins retorted.
Fine Gael councillor John Sheahan suggested that councillors proposing a 15 per cent cut in the baseline payment go and reflect on their proposal.
“Any councillor worth their salt cannot put their hand on their heart and say they don’t benefit from this. We are getting our tertiary roads looked at again. That’s our bread and butter,” he said.
“I would ask those councillors to take time for reflection. We will give them time to go and reflect on their statements and proposal. We are here today working in the here and now. We are the first line of call.”
Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh then suggested that if Limerick City and County Council wanted to make a saving they should “stop killing horses”.