A 15% INCREASE in Cork property tax proposed by the Green Party to be spent on cycle lanes and footpaths has been described as “insulting rhetoric”.
The party says the increase, proposed to take effect from next year, would generate €3m in revenue for the city council and could be ring-fenced for cycleways and footpath repairs, as well as community investments, such as playgrounds and community centres.
The party proposes €1.5m to be ringfenced for commuter cycle infrastructure, including a cycle route between Ballincollig and the city centre, and the city centre to Little Island, connecting with Glanmire.
The Greens believe it could contribute to Cork becoming the electric bike capital of Europe within 10 years.
Other spending includes €500,000 on footpath repairs, with €250,000 funnelled to discretionary capital budgets for each of the five city electoral wards, a €300,000 buffer and €350,000 in an emergency relief fund.
However, Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan has hit out at the strategy describing it as a “poverty of ambition” on climate change.
“I have been an active campaigner for better cycling infrastructure in the city, and believe that it is urgently needed, but foisting the cost onto the shoulders of the broader public already under pressure, due to cost of living rises, is a regressive measure,” said Ms Ryan.
“We need to go much further than increasing funding for cycling infrastructure in the city. We need a budget that’s radical and puts major investment into environmental programmes from City Hall and this proposal is far from adequate to achieve this.
“Instead, the council needs to take on central government for adequate funding. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have starved local councils of necessary funding for years, and we cannot continue to accept this.
“The insulting rhetoric from the Greens that it’s only a €1 a week increase will ring hollow to many at a time when the government are considering passing a budget with no increases in state pension or other social welfare receipts.”
The Green Party says the funding for their proposal will come from an increase of €33 per year in local property tax (LPT) for 30% of homeowners. A further 26% of homeowners would see a €47 annual increase in their LPT. For about 20% of households, the increase would be less than €14 per year.
Councillor Oliver Moran said the funds could help to provide vital infrastructure as well as fund the council’s new Local Area Committees.
“We’ve specifically highlighted cycling and footpaths because these have the potential to benefit the most people. Commuter cycling infrastructure, like a segregated a cycle route to Little Island linking with Glanmire, directly benefits workers and takes cars off the road, which improves congestion. Footpath repairs benefit businesses, the community, the elderly, people with disabilities, young people,” he said.