The Government’s decision to break its promise to allow local councils to keep property tax receipts raised in their area is deeply disappointing. The Government had committed that 80% of the tax raised in an area would be retained by the local council. The decision to reverse this commitment raises question marks over Fine Gael/Labour rhetoric. An element of the ‘sales pitch’ for the property tax was that it wanted to empower local authorities. Removing funding that has been generated by local tax payers completely flies in the face of this commitment.
From 2015 local authorities will have the power to increase or decrease the local property tax. The decision will be left to the elected representatives. However with Government doing a U-turn on its existing promise it remains to be seen if this promise will also be kept. That said the issue of property tax revenues and levels should be one of the main issues in next year’s local elections. Candidates who are standing for political parties need to be clear on their position on this issue.
The property tax was sold by Fine Gael and Labour as a means for local authorities to fund local services and community development. In places like Fingal which has seen its population increase dramatically during the boom years this means a significant income. However this will now not happen because of the Government decision.
It is time for the political parties and their candidates to state unequivocally where they stand on the two key questions:
1) Do they support the retention of property tax in the local authority area where it is raised?
2) Will they pledge not to raise the property tax within the lifetime of the next council?
My position is the money raised in Fingal should be spent in Fingal and the commitment by Government that 80% of the revenue raised in an area should be spent in the area should be retained. I will not support any further increase in property tax if I am elected for a five year term in May 2014.
Unlike the political party candidates I can guarantee I will keep this promise.