Wexford People

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Wexford People

Read our lips: we want new taxes!

WEXFORD'S councillors have taken the opposite view to George W Bush's famous 'read my lips: no new taxes!' declaration, by instead saying they want them brought in.

They have supported a motion calling for more taxes to be introduced, including a property tax, to broaden the revenue base of Wexford County Council and reduce its dependency on commercial rates.

Cllr Malcolm Byrne put forward two motions at last week's meeting of Wexford County Council relating to commercial rates.

He said the council should call for 'the broadening of the revenue base of local authorities to reduce the dependency on commercial rates' and that when preparing its 2012 budget the council would 'prioritise the reduction of commercial rates and seek to ensure that it is as business-friendly as possible'.

Cllr Byrne said that there needed to be a more equitable system of revenue raising and not just a reliance on rates from hard-pressed local businesses.

Fine Gael's Paddy Kavanagh told his Fianna Fail colleague that everything he was suggesting had already been put to the new Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government Phil Hogan.

Cllr Kavanagh asked that the new minister be given some time to put his thoughts and his plans together.

Fianna Fail's Keith Doyle said that as a rate payer himself, he also felt it's time to 'broaden the tax base' of the local authority, with councils taking in the revenue from the likes of water charges and property tax in their area - two new charges that seem likely to hit the people of Ireland at some stage in the not-too-distant future.

However, he urged caution in relation to the current campaign in the county to have commercial rates reduced. 'I'd be very careful of a one agenda mandate given to an organisation. Re-assessing rates is not the cure for all our ails. The simplest way to revamp the system is to broaden the tax base,' said Cllr Doyle.

Cllr Ted Howlin said the new Minister should be given time to reform before the council started calling for things and warned the reform seeking Cllr Byrne to 'stop taking the tablets that Michael Martin is taking', which the Labour councillor believes are causing memory loss in the region of 14 years.

Fianna Fail's Tony Dempsey is another who pays rates. He said he believes Minister Hogan will implement reform and said he'd like to see a rates system where the turnover or profit of the business occupying a building is a determining factor. He said this would be fairer than the present system.

Cllr Declan MacPartlin asked if property tax suddenly came into the picture would Fianna Fail support it. Cllr Byrne said he couldn't speak for all of Fianna Fail, but he would support it,

'People are already paying for local government through income tax and VAT. People would take a lot more interest in local government if they were paying for it directly,' said Cllr Byrne.

His motion to broaden the revenue base was supported by his colleagues, but his suggestion that the council 'ensure it is as business - riendly as possible' was altered to read 'remains as business friendly as possible' after County Manager Eddie Breen said he didn't like the wording as he feels the local authority is very accommodating of local businesses.