Clare councillors have overwhelmingly voted in favour of maintaining the local property tax (LPT) at fifteen percent above the standard rate.
Shannon representatives, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) and Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) were the only county councillors to vote against keeping the higher rate of LPT for 2022 while Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) and Cllr Ann Norton (IND) were absent for Monday’s vote, the remaining 24 elected members of Clare County Council voted to maintain the same rate as 2021.
Addressing Monday’s meeting of the local authority, Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling recommended that there be no change to the LPT. He said by keeping an LPT of 15 percent above the standard rate, the Council would have €1.5m which would “critical to meeting those future demands”.
Disagreement with the case put forward was outlined by Cllr McGettigan, “I don’t think it is progressive, it doesn’t take into account the inability of some people to pay the tax”.
Although he admitted to not being a fan of the LPT, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) proposed the same rate be kept to maximise the amount of funding available locally. “Initially it was to be a tax to support local authorities but it has become a funder of local authorities”. His proposal was seconded by Cllr Joe Cooney (FG).
Central funding from Government has been supplemented by the LPT which was called “a very blunt instrument to extract taxes” by Cllr Flynn. Having supported the higher rate in 2019 and 2020, he said following “a year and a half of serious restrictions” members of the public may not have adequate means to meet the rate. He said the additional services promised at local level have not materialised and flagged some of his projects due to benefit from General Municipal Allocation (GMA) funding were left unspent. Of the €10m collected in LPT in Clare, Cllr Flynn said €2m was used to subsidise other local authorities, “yet again it will be shooting fish in a barrel”.
Four out of ten people in Clare will pay an extra €14 as a result of the higher rate, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) calculated. “I was a staunch objector of the increase to 15 percent but I’ve seen the benefit,” he commented. Additional funding has resulted in “fantastic work” in the Ennis Municipal District, he believed, “we’re providing exceptionally good services”.
After the 24-2 vote was announced at Monday’s virtual meeting, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) remarked, “If any councillor is stuck for projects, I’ve a load in East Clare that need doing, I will gladly take them” to which Cllr Gerry Flynn replied, “personal comments like that should not be allowed”.
FOR: Cllr Mary Howard (FG), Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Pat Daly (FF), Cllr Joe Cooney (FG), Cllr Pat Hayes (FF), Cllr Pat Burke (FG), Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF), Cllr John Crowe (FG), Cllr Michael Begley (IND), Cllr PJ Ryan (IND), Cllr Pat McMahon (FF), Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF), Cllr Shane Talty (FF), Cllr Joe Killeen (FF), Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), Cllr Susan Crawford (GP), Cllr PJ Kelly (FF), Cllr Bill Chambers (FF), Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG), Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF), Cllr Ian Lynch (IND), Cllr Mark Nestor (FF), Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF).
AGAINST: Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF), Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND)
ABSTENTIONS: Cllr Paul Murphy (FG), Cllr Ann Norton (IND).