There will be no change to Local Property Tax in Louth in 2021, after councillors voted against a hike in the tax despite Chief Executive Joan Martin strongly urging the council to adopt an increase.
Ms Martin, as ever, proposed a 15% rise in the Local Property Tax, while a vote, proposed by Fianna Fáil councillor Emma Coffey, to increase the rate by 10% was defeated. Only Cllr Coffey and party colleagues Cllr Conor Keelan and Cllr Liam Reilly voted for the increase.
Once that vote was defeated, all 26 present councillors voted in favour of not changing the rate. The vote was proposed by Cllr Kevin Callan, Mayor of Drogheda.
Cllrs John Sheridan, Paddy McQuillan and Pio Smith were absent for the vote on Monday afternoon.
“We are facing into a very uncertain period,” Ms Martin told the meeting at St Gerard’s Hall in Dundalk. “Between now and the New Year, many businesses will close. It is very disappointing that the councillors have made the decision they have.
“We have not had an increase in income in 10 years,” she added.
The LPT in Louth was last amended in 2016, when it was decreased by 1.5% to the base national level of 0.18%.
Ms Martin told councillors in July that she will once again propose raising the Local Property Tax by 15% this year in a bid to increase revenue. This is the third straight year that the Chief Executive has proposed a 15% increase in LPT – but that has been shot down by councillors once again, as it had in both 2018 and 2019.
“A 15% increase will give us €1.4 million,” she told the July meeting of Louth County Council. “That would give us sufficient funding to continue to provide services at the level we are now.”
The local authority received 10 written submissions in relation to the Local Property Tax vote, as part of the public presentation process.
A 15% increase would have meant households would have been charged anywhere between €13.50 and €74.25 more per year next year, depending on the value of the property – to a maximum value of €300,000.
Speaking during the meeting on Monday, Mayor Kevin Callan said, “We represent people who are like all of us living in very uncertain times, with uncertain household budgets, redundancies, lay off and an inability to pay, the solution is not to increase the rate of Property Tax.
“I understand some might say it’s a small amount of money, however an increase is not viable where we do not know when this current situation changes.
“I totally understand the rationale, but I can’t support it. Every household is in uncertain times, not just the local authority,” he added. “We don’t know how long this is going to go on for.”
Cllr Coffey, who proposed the 10% increase, acknowledged the need for more income to made available to the council for expenditure.
“We have a situation where Louth County Council has a budget where it has to provide services. We are in uncertain times in terms of income generated. Not just in commercial rates, but also in parking and other revenue,” she said.
“I don’t take this lightly but I do think we should consider an increase – which would range from €9 per annum on the lower scale and €49.50 on the higher scale.
“We are going to be approximately €2 million down in our annual budget for next year. I feel it is our duty, we were elected, to minimise those decreases in those others areas in the budget.
“We are facing a Covid falloff and a Brexit reality,” she said.