Pay parking charges could be on the rise across Louth after councillors voted down a proposal to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate locally.
Chief Executive Joan Martin told the September council meeting that the local authority are facing an additional €3.8 million in costs during 2023.
This includes extra costs for climate change measures totalling €250,000, a further €500,000 hike in energy costs, an increase by €2,700,000 in payroll and an additional €350,000 in ICT costs.
The council heard that the local authority will take in €460,000 less from LPT next year, In 2022 the intake was €9,736,000. In 2023, it is expected to be €9,276,293, largely as a result of the LPT Revaluation for Louth.
There were an additional 2,079 properties liable for LPT, added at a value of €645,000, but councillors were told that with the new rates applied there will be an actual reduction overall of €1.1million.
"This is due to the new bands being introduced, resulting in more people paying less for LPT in 2023.”
The Chief Executive said that almost half of the households in Louth are on the lowest rate of €90 per year.
She outlined a number of significant public realm projects that are being sponsored by the council, including the Drogheda ‘Westgate Vision’, Ardee 2040, Carlingford improvement works, the Bridge Street project in Dundalk and the Omeath works project which “would help it gain the maximum from the greenway, and help it to flourish again as the type of major attraction it was back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.”
The council heard that if the LPT rate remains unchanged this year again, there would be areas under consideration for increases, including pay parking, and the option of adding one euro a week to the contribution of social housing tenants.
Cllr. Kevin Callan said he “took on board everything that was presented to the council with the greatest of respect.”
But he added “I couldn’t in conscience propose to increase it or decrease it this year, on the basis that people, like the council, are under ferocious pressure.”
He warned that the shortfall was “continuously being dumped back on the local government, to bridge the gap from central government.”
Cllr. Callan felt it was “unfair to seek to increase taxation on people, when there is so much uncertainty.” He proposed that the LPT rate stay the same for the coming year.
Cllr. Tomas Sharkey said that with the revaluation of the LPT system it was likely that a lot of people would be paying less for property tax.
He added: “Now more than ever we need our public services, libraries, public parks, swimming pools, as families won’t have the money to go on holidays next year.”
Cllr. Paula Butterly proposed a 10% increase in the LPT rate, saying “we won’t be able to guarantee these public services, or indeed maintenance to public housing, mobility grants. Further down the line we could propose that this money be ring-fenced, but for the moment I am proposing a 10% increase.”
Cllr. Pio Smith said he accepted what was said about the provision of services. He said he did have concerns around match funding projects, and destination towns. Homelessness services were also going to need additional supports, he added.
He said that cleaning of the town centres was very important, particularly given the low rankings received in recent IBAL surveys.
He supported the proposal to increase the rate by 10%, saying that although “it may not be popular I think it is time to look at this a little differently.”
The CE said that the “squeeze would come” on projects like the Town and Village projects, as she would have to “prioritise the major public realm projects sponsored by the council.”
Street cleaning is another significant annual costs, said the Chief Executive, with an average of €4million spent every year on cleaning and litter management.
She said that at least €1 million is spent on cleaning Dundalk and Drogheda alone.
"However I simply couldn’t countenance that being met, it would be a priority item I would have to provide for. We don't want to look like Edinburgh did during the Fringe festival.”
A vote was taken to increase the LPT rate by 10%, but councillors opposed it by a majority of 15 to 13.
A second vote to leave the LPT unchanged was approved by a majority of 23 to five.