Government parties should be demanding central Government fill the hole in local authority funds due to Covid-19, that is the opinion of People Before Profit Galway spokesperson Adrian Curran.
His comments come after the Galway City Council rejected an increase of 15 per cent in the local property tax rate (LPT ) for 2021 at the local authority's ordinary meeting at Leisureland on Monday afternoon.
Green Party councillors Martina O'Connor and Niall Murphy voted in favour of the increase and Mr Curran said it was unacceptable for Government party councillors to ask families to make up for the shortfall in income due to the pandemic.
He said; "It's good news that there will be no increase in the local property tax. The LPT is a regressive tax that takes absolutely no consideration of income or personal wealth and has resulted in less funds being available for local services. It is simply unacceptable that increasing the tax on the family home is being proposed to address the shortfall in council income due to Covid-19. When we see bins overflowing around the city and our public services being privatised you have to question whether people see a return for the LPT they pay.
"Councillors, especially those from Government parties, should be demanding the Government fills the Covid-19 hole in local authority funds. Placing this burden on ordinary people in the week that Ireland officially entered a recession would be wholly unfair. We would suggest the council would be better off looking at other avenues of funding. They could start with actually collecting the vacant sites levy.
"The vacant sites levy was established in 2015 to ensure that vacant land in urban areas is brought into beneficial use. Levies are due to be imposed at a rate of seven per cent of a site’s market value and the revenue is used by councils for housing.
"Last year neither of Galway's local authorities collected any of the levies owed. This hurts the council's income, reduces its ability to provide housing, and lets developers off the hook for hoarding land.
"The council's claim of being desperately in need of additional income also rings hollow when it continually spends none of the Traveller accommodation funding allocated to it."