Galway city’s local property tax (LPT ) rate will remain the same for next year after councillors voted to reject a 15 per cent and 10 per cent increase at the local authority’s ordinary meeting at Leisureland on Monday afternoon.
The councillors’ decision come after chief executive of the city council Brendan McGrath had warned the chamber that the local authority was looking into a very dire budget for 2021 and advised that a 15 per cent increase to the LPT was needed to counteract the loss in revenue streams due to the pandemic.
The increase would have resulted in an extra €1.247 million being added to the council’s coffers, costing the average taxpayer around €36 per annum.
Mr McGrath said; “We levied €37.8 million [in rates bills] in February; we have collected €13.7 million; we are €13.5 million behind compared to last year. We hope to make up most of that in waiver scheme.
“[However], We know a lot of businesses that may not open. At least seven of the British High Street stores have disappeared and won’t be back. There is a strong sense quite a few businesses won’t reopen and won’t be able to pay the rates we are due to collect. Other income sources [are affected] like parking income or not being able to fill The Town Hall Theatre or the Black Box.
'Mayor Mike Cubbard said an increase would be irresponsible of the council and “it would be shameful to burden families even more”'
“Every scenario, we face a difficult problem. As a local authority we will struggle to balance budget. By all indications, the 2021 budget scenario will be horrendously difficult. If you don’t [increase the LPT], it will exacerbate our position.”
Councillors had mixed responses to the chief executive’s calls for an increase to the LPT with Labour councillor Níall McNelis saying it was difficult for councillors to increase the rate as they had not decreased it “during the good times”.
Mayor Mike Cubbard said he was totally opposed to an increase saying it would be irresponsible of the council to do so and “it would be shameful to burden families even more”.
Green Party councillor Martina O’Connor said it was difficult to vote on the issue but the local authority needed to maximise its income with Social Democrats Owen Hanley saying the council had a duty to look after most disadvantaged and therefore should support the increase.
Two motions to increase the LPT by 15 per cent and 10 per cent were respectively defeated by 13 votes to three and two absentees and 11 votes to five with two absentees respectively. A motion to leave the tax unchanged was passed by 11 votes to five with two absentees.