30th September 2015
One of the responsibilities of County Councillors is to decide each year what rate of property tax to charge for that coming year. Councillors can vote to reduce or increase the base rate of 100% by up to 15%. This must be done annually and must take into account the finances of the council. Last year, the majority of Wicklow County Councillors voted (including myself) to reduce the base rate by 15%.
Last Monday, we had to vote on this again. It was a very difficult decision to make.
In principle, I disagree with the LPT because I think it is an unfair tax – for many reasons, but primarily, because Wicklow is continually underfunded by central Government. In Wicklow, we pay much more in property tax than other counties but receive much less in government funding.
But WCC’s budget for 2016 has been reduced by 1.9 million due, mainly, to cuts in Government funding. A 1.9 million reduction in spending would mean that service provision to our towns and communities would be significantly reduced. It would mean cuts to our fire services, libraries, homelessness services, playgrounds etc. The only way we could keep service provision at current levels was to retain 100% the of LPT collected. This is why I voted to keep the LPT at the base level, and not to reduce it as was done last year. The majority of Councillors voted to keep it also.
This was not an easy decision to make but I do believe its the best one for our communities.