Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Councillors in Mayo voted for an increase of 10 percent on the base rate of Local Property tax at yesterday’s meeting of Mayo County Council.

The increase will see over 24,000 households, with properties valued at under €100,000, in Mayo paying an additional €9 per annum in Property Tax while those with properties valued between €100,000 and €150,000 will pay an extra €22.50 in the tax.

The increase on the base rate of Local Property Tax will see an extra €1.04 million generated in revenue, which Director of Finance Tom Gilligan said would help cover some of the local authority’s deficits and cover the cost of match funding schemes, where Mayo County Council covers a quarter of the cost of development, such as those under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, and the government funds the remaining three-quarters. He added that this would help to bridge a gap in funding and send a positive message to the Government about the council’s ability to raise funds internally when seeking grants and other financial supports in the future.

The discussion caused fierce debate in the TF Royal Theatre, where the meeting was being held, with councillors arguing for and against increasing the tax.

Cllr Peter Flynn said those on the Fine Gael side of the chamber, which is effectively in opposition in Mayo County Council, would be willing to support the increase, as they had to leave the door open for matching funding. Fianna Fáil’s Al McDonnell welcomed Cllr Flynn’s message and said it was important to look at the issue in a non-political way.

“We can’t go back to the rate-payers again this year. The only chance we have to enhance our finances is to agree to a modest increase in Local Property Tax and this is an affordable increase,” said Cllr McDonnell.

Cllr Mark Duffy said he had reservations about the proposed increase, as he said he was yet to see the impact of increasing rates on the supply of services in Ballina and other urban areas.

“We were sold on the increase in commercial rates based on the improvement and increases it would bring to our services but there are works still not done in Ballina such as line-painting and planting of flowers. An increase like that should be visible,” said Cllr Duffy.

Cllr Damien Ryan said if everyone in the county is to buy into the increase, they would need to see the benefits of it. On that basis, he proposed the ten percent increase with the condition that the Chief Executive and all senior council management sit down with councillors to discuss the delivery of services, and offer insights such as timeframes for the beginning and completion of works. He also proposed that €200,000 of the additional collected revenue be ring-fenced for verge trimming, along with the existing budget of €200,000 and proposed that additional services be put forward for the clean up of town centres.

The proposal was seconded by Cllr Jarlath Munnelly, who requested in addition to Cllr Ryan’s proposals that the figure allocated to each Municipal District, as part of the additional €1.04 million generated from the LPT increase, is reflected as a line item in each district’s budget for the coming year. He said that each district should have the opportunity to discuss how the allocated money is spent along with their Schedule of Works.

Cllr Mark Duffy made a counter-proposal, suggesting no change to Local Property Tax and was seconded by Cllr Brendan Mulroy and Cllr Gerry Murray.

Cllr Ryan’s proposal was put to a vote and passed with 20 For and 10 Against.

The 10 councillors to vote against the proposal were Councillors Mark Duffy, Blackie Gavin, Christy Hyland, Michael Loftus, Martin McLoughlin, Brendan Mulroy, Gerry Murray, Patsy O’Brien, John O’Malley and Seamus Weir.

Those who voted in favour: Cyril Burke, Michael Burke, Sean Carey, John Caulfield, Tom Connolly, Gerry Coyle, John Cribben, Neil Cruise, Ger Deere, Richard Finn, Peter Flynn, Michael Kilcoyne, Al McDonnell, Paul McNamara, Jarlath Munnelly, John O’Hara, Annie May Reape, Damien Ryan, Donna Sheridan and Michael Smyth.

Upon the announcement of the result, Cllr John O’Malley, who voted against the proposal, remarked: “You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The people of Mayo will be very disappointed with this.”

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