Council finances cannot support property tax cut

Property owners will find out on Monday if they are likely to get any relief from Mayo County Council by way of a reduction in the local property tax (LPT ) rate.

However, the top financial official with Mayo County Council says the authority coffers cannot support any reduction.

Head of finance, Peter Duggan, is to tell elected members of the council at their monthly meeting on Monday that the authority is already facing a funding shortfall of €6.4 million in 2015.

Under the Local Property Tax Act, local authorities can vary the property tax rate by as much as 15 per cent - either upwards or downwards.

In a report circulated to elected members of Mayo County Council ahead of Monday’s meeting, Mr Duggan outlined how the council’s income is expected to decrease by €19.7 million in 2015.

Of this amount, €13.3 million is recoupable from third parties and will not have a financial impact. However, that still leaves Mayo County Council facing a funding gap of €6.4 million in 2015.

Some 57,000 properties in Mayo are registered for LPT.

Mr Duggan said Revenue projects the total net LPT receipts for Mayo in 2014 will be €10.2 million.

If Mayo County Council were to reduce the LPT rate by the full 15 per cent next year, receipts would decrease by €1.53 million.

“Based on preliminary projections for Budget 2015, the council has additional unfunded demands of €6.4 million,” stated Mr Duggan in his report. “A reduction in income from LPT would increase this funding gap. This funding gap will have to be met through a combination of increasing income and/or reducing expenditure.

“In light of this, there is no scope to reduce the base rate of LPT for 2015.”

Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Damien Ryan, said the Fianna Fáil party, who with five Independents hold a majority in the council chamber, will meet ahead of the main meeting on Monday morning. “This is number one on the agenda,” he said. “I don’t want to comment in advance of the meeting but I do think that it is important to give people some type of hope and some understanding that we are doing our best to see what kind of gesture, if any, we can pass on.”

Independent Councillor Michael Kilcoyne said he will only support a property tax reduction.

He wants to see the property tax rate cut by the full 15 per cent over the lifetime of the council.

 

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