Councils and local property tax – The Irish Times
Sir, – I am indebted to Cllr John Kennedy of Fine Gael for his response (Letters, 18 October) to my previous letter (17 October). This helps highlight key policy areas and value differences between our respective parties. Social Democrats form politics based on fairness, equality, sustainability and evidence. Is it fair to offer a universal 15% local property tax (LPT) tax reduction to all residential property owners rather than targeting it to those who are likely to have more difficulty paying base rate? The 15% reduction is worth up to €100 per year for over 72% of LPT payers at Dún Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR), those targeted in the proposed residential support scheme. Instead, Cllr Kennedy prefers a universal tax cut to all LPT taxpayers. Let’s take an example: this reduction is worth €1,500 for wealthy residents whose properties are valued at €4 million. I don’t think it’s fair or equitable to provide such biased and unequal benefits. Social Democrats favor universal services and targeted state aid and targeted tax cuts. Cllr Kennedy also dismisses evidence of retail credit redemption rates, preferring to rely on his belief that the pilot’s rate “appeared to be low”.
But Cllr Kennedy is doing us a huge favor by pointing out one of the many major flaws of the newly reformed LPT. He correctly notes that the elimination of the Equalization Fund was presumed to result in an increase in the discretionary income of the board. Not so. Instead, what the central government gives the DLR with one hand (more than 10 million euros) it takes more with another. The increase in the allocation of “self-financed” expenditure (under the headings housing and roads) from 44% to 63% of LPT income means that the State is reducing its subsidy payments to the municipality by more than 13 million euros. This also means that of the €5 million in additional LPT revenue from new properties subject to LPT, the central government clawed back €3.4 million in the form of reduced grant payments to the council. Maybe Cllr Kennedy should write to his senior party colleagues? – Yours, etc.,
Councilor DAVE QUINN,
Rathdown County Council,