HOMEOWNERS in Limerick pay a “pittance” of 40 cents a week in Local Property Tax (LPT) to put €11.8 million back into vital Council services throughout the city and county.
That was the message from many council members at County Hall this Monday as they voted in favour of keeping the LPT and its variation rate at 2022 levels for the next two years.
This means there will be no changes to the LPT for Limerick homeowners in 2023, seeing it remain at 15 per cent above the base rate into 2024.
Homeowners in Band 1 will now pay €103 with those in Band 2 paying €258. Those in Band 3 will pay €362. Consequently, many of Limerick’s homeowners will see a slight decrease in their Local Property Tax (LPT) bills for 2023.
The revenues collected by Limerick City and County Council will however fall by €261,428 in 2023 compared to 2022, due to the overall re-valuation of homes and consolidation of bands by Revenue.
Among the projects funded by the LPT in 2022 are new gritting trucks and road sweepers, a hot pressure washer for footpaths, a velocity patcher to fix potholes, and a chip spreader.
The LPT has also facilitated an increase in the amount of gully inlet works being carried out on regional and local roads. Additional funds from the LPT were also allocated to the fire and library services and tourism development.
Public Realm improvements in Ballynanty, the Community Park in Castleconnell, Patrickswell Community Centre, and the People’s Park were also facilitated through funds coming from the LPT.
“The revaluation of local property taxes last year means that while we’re keeping the Local Property Tax as is, the revaluation will see a fall in the amount of local property tax that they’ve [tax payers] got to pay,” Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Finance Sean Coughlan explained.
“While there is a decrease in the revenues generated by LPT next year, our intention is to retain services at 2022 level in so far as possible.
‘There are currently huge pressures in the economy at present from energy costs to inflation but we are looking at efficiencies across the Council as we form the Council Budget for 2023.”
Sinn Féin’s three Council members, Cllrs Sharon Benson, Tom Collopy, and PJ Ryan, voted against the property tax.
“Sinn Féin’s position on the property tax has always remained very clear. It is an unfair tax. The Local Property Tax is a tax on housing consumption, which decreases as a share of housing expenditure as incomes increase.
“Consequently, Local Property Tax is regressive by design. Sinn Féin, in Government, would abolish the property tax and replace it with central exchequer funding,” Cllr Benson told council members.
According to the City North representative, their members went out and spoke to people in Limerick last weekend regarding the LPT.
“We asked the question, ‘Do you know where or what your property tax is spent on?’ – just over 91 per cent of respondents said they didn’t know,” Cllr Benson claimed.
“We asked the question on rate variation from the base rate and 18.18 per cent said that it should be set at the base rate, 81.82 per cent felt that it should decrease from the base rate.
“Zero per cent of respondents thought that it should be increased above the base rate.
“We also asked the question ‘Do you feel as though you benefit from your property tax?’ The response was a resounding no. Not one person said that they feel that they benefit from their property tax — not one,” she added.
Cllr Benson also took the view that the teas and coffees and sandwiches provided for councillors and staff at meetings would have to go to help tighten their belts in more ways than one.
“Hot lunches they would replace them with and desserts,” Fine Gael councillor Adam Teskey replied.
Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin also hit out at Cllr Benson’s comments.
“Asking people do they like paying taxes is like asking children do they like chocolate. We all know what the answer is going to be. Cllr Benson doesn’t want to see funding from the LPT used on roads and other services but she’d be happy to stand into the photographs,” he suggested.
“I have had enough of this rubbish for one day,” he added.
Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan said he was happy to support the LPT because of the vital facilities and services it provides.
He also asked Cllr Benson, if she is set against the LPT, whether she would still be looking for works to be carried out on Westfields Wetlands.
Independent councillor Eddie Ryan felt it would be criminal and negligent on their part to vote against the LPT.
“I say we leave it alone. It is only a pittance but people get great value for money,” he opined.
Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan asked that the message go out from the chamber that there was no increase in the LPT.
“There’s no increase in what’s being proposed here today. Let us be clear on that and sing it from the hills — there’s no increase and I am very grateful for that.”