By Dan Walsh at County Hall, Wexford
A motion seeking approval for the adoption of a 15% local adjustment factor to be applied to the Local Property Tax (LPT) in County Wexford for two years, 2023 and 2024, came before today’s meeting of Wexford County Council and was carried by 20 votes to 14.
Cllr Pip Breen favoured the 15% increase to support work still going on in the districts. He said it was a “no brainer” and necessary for the delivery of services.
Cllr Ger Carthy questioned the origins of the”revaluation” and he wondered whose decision it was? “It has been 10% since 2014 and the delivery of economic projects needs 15% above the baseline,” he claimed.
Cllr Leonard Kelly asked about funding secured for existing projects and Ms O’Neill replied that there was no central funding increase since 2013, road maintenance grants at levels similar to 2008, LPT revaluation results confirmed and no buoyancy, unprecedented inflationary impact on energy, fuel and other costs and a need to make financial plans to secure and host Fleadh Cheoil na h-Éireann in Wexford town.
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin said the LPT was consistent since 2013, but he could not support it because “I complained against it in the past,” and he also pointed out that “Wexford had the worst roads in the country with no grants since 2008 and the LPT as a funding model gave no support!”
Cllr David Hynes said that since 2014 “We have this problem. Local Government funding was taken away out of general taxation. It was a con job then…and it is still a con job,”. “We have the worst cost of living problem we ever had. Old people have no waiver. We’ll be asking for more next year,” he added.
Cllr Joe Sullivan pointed to “a new challenge now and the ability of people to pay and every penny counts. “On September 27th (Budget Day) the Government came into our homes and gave us €600 and now they want 15% back and an increase in mortgage rates, interest rates, motor fuel, home heating and inflation running at 8-10%.”
Cllr Sullivan equated the 15% increase to 47,888 bags of coal, 21,550 tonnes of timber and 1,327, 000 worth of heating oil at €1.25 per litre! “We are taking that purchasing power off the people,” he concluded.
Cllr Willie Kavanagh supported the rise. He had no problem with it as it amounted to 25 cent a week!
Finance Officer Annette O’Neill told the meeting that the number of properties liable for LPT in Co. Wexford for 2022 is in the region of 64,200. The annual income has been determined at €11.498 million based on statistics recently provided by the Revenue Commissioners. 93% of properties in the county are now valued at €350,000 or less, paying an annual LPT of €347 or less.
The adoption of the 15% increase for two years was proposed by Cllr Pip Breen and seconded by Cllr Ger Carthy and put to the floor by Cathaoirleach Cllr George Lawlor. The result was a 20-14 vote in favour of the proposal.
There was a distinct tense atmosphere in the chamber as members worked out their intentions to vote and when the votes were counted both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had broken ranks.
Those who voted in FAVOUR of the motion; Cllrs Maura Bell, Andrew Bolger, Pip Breen, Cathal Byrne, Ger Carthy, Kathleen Codd-Nolan, Anthony Donohoe, Mary Farrell, John Hegarty, Willie Kavanagh, Donal Kenny, Garry Laffan, George Lawlor, Lisa McDonald, Jim Moore, Barbara-Anne Murphy, Michael Sheehan, Frank Staples, Oliver Walsh and Michael Whelan. (20).
Who voted AGAINST; Cllr Pat Barden, Aidan Browne, Jim Codd, Anthony Connick, Diarmuid Devereux, John Fleming, Tom Forde, David Hynes, Leonard Kelly, Bridín Murphy, John O’Rourke, Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, Jackser Owens and Joe Sullivan. (14).