CORK county residents are facing a higher property tax bill for next year after councillors voted by a majority to increase the basic rate of the Local Property Tax (LPT) by 5%.
This decision now means that an extra €1.5m will be in the Council’s coffers, but it also means that the vast majority of households will face an increase of €15 per year.
At a heated meeting of the local authority on Monday, councillors voted by 27 votes to 24 to sanction the increase, despite calls by several councillors not to change the current rate.
Last year councillors opted not to increase the basic rate.
Councillors were told that in 2019, 80% of the LPT income collected (€32.7m) was retained locally, with the remaining 20% paid into an ‘equalisation’ fund.
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF), whose party voted against the increase, and proposed no variation on the tax, said that it remains an unpopular payment.
‘This tax was to lead to significant better services for the county, but it hasn’t done that, and it hasn’t delivered. We certainly do not want to increase the LPT on householders and we believe we are taking a responsible decision by voting to keep it as it is,’ said Cllr McGrath.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) voted against the increase, describing the concept of the LPT as a ‘blunt instrument.’
‘It was supposed to be extra funding to provide local services and it certainly hasn’t done that, and I don’t think the public in general have seen any benefit of the LPT in their area,’ he said.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said he could not ask people to pay extra money and be used as a ‘scapegoats’ because of lack of central government funding.
Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) said the money being spent in the municipal districts has been invaluable for different groups like Tidy Town Groups. Cllr Alan O’Connor (GP) said it was a tough decision to call for an increase, but he proposed a 5% hike. Cllr Holly Cairns (SD) seconded the proposal, saying she wanted to give the floor a choice, but she voted against the actual increase.
Cllr John Paul O’Shea (FG) said his party was supporting the increase, provided the money is ring-fenced for the municipal districts.
Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and some independents voted against the 5% increase, while Fine Gael, the Green Party, Labour and other independents voted in favour.