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Hogan says councils won't lose out over failure to collect household tax

COUNCILS that successfully collect the €100 household charge will be rewarded under government plans.

The Department of Environment yesterday confirmed that Minister Phil Hogan is determined to see through his proposal that councils who "pulled out all the stops" to collect the tax will get extra money.

But despite this, his officials insisted councils with a low rate of collection would not miss out -- although details of how this would work are to be decided.

The fallout from the household charge controversy will be discussed at cabinet today.

The deadline for paying the charge passed on Saturday and the Government has estimated that only half of the 1.6 million households liable to pay have done so.

The tax is intended to raise €160m, which would be distributed through the Local Government Fund.

All local authorities will suffer a hit of some kind if the full target is not reached.

This is because no extra state revenue will be provided to make up for a shortfall.

The department has not yet been given any statistics by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) -- which is collecting the money -- about the rate of compliance in each of the 34 local authority areas.

Most local authorities still have no idea how many people in their area have paid the charge.

An Irish Independent survey of councils has found just a small number have provisional figures for the number of paid-up households in their area.

Dun Laoghaire County Council said it had a compliance rate of over 50pc, but did not have a "final tally".

Meanwhile, Fingal County manager David O'Connor said €4.25m had so far been collected from 42,500 households by the March 31 deadline.

He said Fingal County Council had the third highest compliance rate in the country -- just short of 50pc.

Louth County Council confirmed about 6,000 payments were processed at its three local authority offices before the deadline. However, the numbers paying online have not yet been confirmed.

Donegal County Council said the compliance rate and the estimated number of households still to pay were not yet available. A spokeswoman said there were "substantial additional numbers awaiting processing" but as of 9am yesterday there were 15,546 payments.

The local authority said it would review measures to deal with the remaining householders "in line with legislation" when it received the final registered numbers.

A large number of councils said that they had not got a definitive figure on the number of households required to pay the charge in their area, or those eligible for a waiver.

The LGMA said it was working with state agencies to compile a database of properties in the country -- and until it was complete, the exact number of properties would not be available.

The LGMA last night said that about 832,458 properties had registered for the charge nationwide by yesterday.

There were around 100 unopened bags of letters -- an estimated 106,000 letters in all -- in the central bureau dealing with the charge last night.

Meanwhile, councillors were criticised at a monthly meeting last night for failing to discuss the charge.

Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan criticised Dublin City councillors who did not reach a motion relating to the charge during a meeting that ran for more than three hours.

Sinn Fein councillor Larry O'Toole and four other councillors walked out of Dublin City Council's monthly meeting last night after the Lord Mayor refused to take an emergency motion in relation to the charge.

The motion called for the repeal of legislation providing for the charge and stated they deplored the government linking local authority funding directly to the charge.

Mr O'Toole said the council was being threatened "by government ministers with closures".

The chair said the issue should go on the agenda like the other motions.

Irish Independent