Minister urged to exempt flooded houses from property tax

A motion calling on Environment Minister Phil Hogan to exempt householders affected by the big flood of 2009 from having to pay property tax on houses which were damaged and, in many cases, have been rendered valueless was passed at this month’s meeting of the Galway County Council.

At last week’s meeting the motion, put forward by Cllr Dermot Connolly was carried with 18 councillors for and five against. The Sinn Fein councillor highlighted that there are still many householders in county Galway, affected by the flooding, that “still cannot get insurance”, that many are valueless and it is “very unfair” for property tax to be imposed on these properties.

“Galway county was significantly affected. I call on the Minister to exempt those whose homes are now not sellable,” said Cllr Connolly.

Fine Gael councillor Bridie Willers said: “As one of the persons he is referring to, I paid my tax and I’m living in my home that is worthless.” Referring to a flooding update report presented to members, Cllr Willers put it to the council executive that the flood was in 2009 and “we’re no nearer to a solution to getting anything done with the Dunkellin River and Aggard [Stream Flood relief] Scheme. Do something about it or next October I will still be sitting in my valueless house waiting for the floods to rise.”

Also referring to the lack of progress in flood prevention, Fianna Fail’s Michael Connolly said that there were areas in south Galway and around Claregalway where there are still a lot of on-going problems not sorted. “Another crisis will come before we do something about it,” he warned.

In relation to the Dunkellin River and Aggard Stream Flood Relief Scheme, a report stated that engineering and environmental consultants are in continued liaison with the OPW to come up with a benefit to cost assessment “that has to be positive in the current economic climate”. This process as well as finalising engineering design and environmental assessment has been described as highly complex. The council said that “every effort” was being made to progress the scheme and ensure that the EIS (environment impact statement ) is submitted to the strategic infrastructure division of An Bord Pleanala as soon as possible. Following public consultation in November 2012, the OPW and its consultants are finalising and responding to submissions in relation to the Clare River Flood Relief Scheme and it will be referred to the Minister of Finance for consideration at the earliest date.

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