CENTRAL Government is 'dumping' its own problems in revenue-raising on local authorities, according to one angry councillor who says that the way councils are now funded can be blamed for cuts to the local authority's budget.
Cllr David McGuinness (FF) said that to the change in local Government funding – which was once funded by a combination of general exchequer funds and the road tax – to a system where it is funded directly by local service users through the household charge was the root of the problem. This shift in the funding model had resulted in a 'scandalous situation', according to the councillor. He said: ' The difficulties of central Government in its income sources are being dumped on local authorities'. He said that the council had passed a budget this year in good faith and with some expectations as to what its income and what its spending would be only to find that budget cut by central Government in what he called a 'very callous and cold measure'. He put forward a motion calling on the county manager to appeal the €2.2m cut in Government funding for the council and said: 'This is not in our interest and we should be doing all we can to stop this.' Cllr Eugene Coppinger (Socialist) said there was a ' propaganda exercise' on the part of the Government to link non-payment of the household charge to cuts in local services. He said the Government was trying to 'pit neighbour against neighbour' by splitting the population into those who had paid the charge and those who had not. Cllr Coppinger said that Environment Minister Phil Hogan was 'putting blame where it doesn't belong' and said that a wealth tax on the assets of the richest five percent in the country would garner €2bn every year as an alternative to the household charge.