Property tax rate set
The Local Property Tax will remain at the same level for the next year in Fingal after a majority of councillors voted to apply a 10% discount on the tax for Fingal householders for a second year in the row, 5% short of the full 15% they were allowed to cut the tax.
Fingal householders had been used to getting the full 15% reduction in the tax, since its introduction, but last year councillors were convinced to give only a 10% reduction in the tax to increase the council's discretionary spend on everything from extra operations works to the funding of community events.
This will be the second year in a row that the discount will remain at 10% and will net about €2 million in extra funds for the council when measured against the full 15% reduction councillors could have imposed.
The chamber was split on the issue with the 10% reduction proposed by the county executive and argued strongly for by the council's Head of Finance, Oliver Hunt and the council chief executive, Paul Reid.
Fine Gael councillors proposed a motion backing the 10% reduction while Sinn Féin and Solidarity councillors proposed counter motions, calling for the full 15% reduction.
Cllr Howard Mahony of Fianna Fáil proposed a 15% reduction also but ultimately, despite seconding his motion to allow it to be put to the floor, the rest of his Fianna Fáil colleagues voted for the 10% reduction.
The 10% discount was ultimately passed by 25 votes to 13 at the meeting.
As a result, householders in Fingal will be asked to pay the same level of property tax in the year ahead as they have this year.
The 10% reduction makes Fingal the only local authority in Dublin not reducing the tax by the full 15% but the county executive made the point that outside of Dublin, most councils have voted to reduce the tax by less than 10%, or not vary it at all with some even voting an increase in the tax, including the neighbouring local authority in County Meath.
Council executive says 10% is the 'balanced approach'
Before councillors voted on setting the rate for the next year's property taxes in Fingal, the council's head of finance and chief executive laid out some budgetary realities and implored councillors to back a reduction in the rate of 10% as opposed to the full 15% discount allowed.
The council's head of finance, Oliver Hunt told councillors that in making their decision, they were required by legislation to consider the local authority's estimation of its income and expenditure, the financial position of the local authority, the financial effect of their decision and feedback from consultation on the issue.
He said that varying the tax by 10% rather than 15% would leave more than 80% of Fingal householders paying only 48 cents a week more than they would have had the full discount been applied.
But the lesser discount would mean a boost to the council's discretionary spend which is ringfenced for extra operations works, community and events spending and for the council's homelessness programmes.
He explained some of the budgetary pressures the council is expecting to face in the next year and said it was 'vital' that the LPT rate would not be discounted by more than 10%.
Council chief executive, Paul Reid backed up the argument saying the decision was key to the formation of the council's next budget.
He said that the council executive was taking a 'balanced approach' to the issue and was proposing a 10% discount rather than not varying the tax at all or putting it up.
He said the switch from 15% discounts to 10% last year had worked and delivered an expanded works programme and the funding of new community events.