Council chaos as Local Property Tax vote ends in farce

Householders across the county are facing a Hobson’s Choice – a higher rate of Local Property Tax or a major curtailment in public services – as a contentious vote to maintain a 10% LPT loading looks set to be revoked at a special meeting of the local authority this Friday.

The move will result in a reprieve for hard-pressed homeowners in the county and annual savings of between €10 and €30 – but rescinding the higher rate of LPT in 2018 will also worsen the local authority’s already perilous financial position by €1.45 million, and lead to a reduction in local services.

Fianna Fáil and a kaleidoscope of Independents and smaller parties have said they will shoot down the LPT increase, which was controversially rubberstamped by Fine Gael Councillors at a dramatic, and at times farcical, Council meeting on Monday.

Council Chief Executive, Kevin Kelly, warned that any attempt to row back on the LPT hike would blow a €1.45m hole in the budget, which is already €4.3m short for next year.

Last year, a majority of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Councillors controversially voted to increase the LPT in County Galway by 10%.

Last Monday, a majority of Councillors – all Fine Gael – voted to maintain the 2017 increase for 2018. Twelve Fianna Fáil members did not arrive into the Chamber in time to cast their vote; they were in a separate room discussing an appointment to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

This meant that just 19 of the 39 members of the Council voted on the LPT, and, with Fianna Fáil absent from the room, Fine Gael had a temporary majority.

Fianna Fáil will be given an opportunity to have its say on the LPT after Cllr James Charity used standing orders to call a special meeting to revoke the decision to maintain the higher rate.

Cllr Charity received the consent of six members needed to convene a special meeting which will be held at 9am this Friday. Council must tell Revenue by 5pm on Friday of the LPT rate applying for 2018.

See full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.