CORK County Councillors have voted to increase people's property tax payments by 5% next year.
The decision will lead to an increase of just over €15 per year for 90% of households in Cork county in 2020 and will raise around €1.5m for County Hall.
The increase was passed by a 27-24 majority of councillors after County Hall chief executive Tim Lucey had warned that the local authority would struggle to maintain services without increased funds.
Following the city boundary expansion, County Hall's revenue from property tax was set to drop from €32.7m in 2019 to €24.6m in 2020, due to the loss of thousands of homes to the city jurisdiction.
Councillors had the option to increase or decrease the tax by up to 15%.
Increasing the LPT by 15% would have resulted in a yearly increase of €47.25 for 90% of households.
Fine Gael Councillor Susan McCarthy spoke in favour of the tax, stressing the importance of putting services and playgrounds into communities.
However, Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus McGrath said the property tax was introduced in 2013 to deliver significantly better services for communities, but regrettably, it had failed.
“It remains a deeply unpopular tax because of that,” Mr McGrath said.
Mr McGrath said the council was increasingly relying on communities to do tasks that the council should be taking care of, saying it was an unsustainable model.
“As a party, we propose no variation (to the tax), we don’t want to increase the tax for homeowners. We believe we are taking a responsible decision on that.”
In the end, councillors voted 27 to 24 in favour of the proposal brought forward by Green Party Councillor Alan O’Connor and seconded by Social Democrat Councillor Holly McKeever Cairns.
Mr O’Connor said it was a tough decision to make but insisted the 5% increase should be approved for the good of the community.
Ms Cairns, who voted against the tax increase, told the chamber she would second the motion to give the floor the option to vote on the increase, as the idea of increasing the tax had gained vocal support from both Fine Gael and Labour Councillors who declined to put their names to the proposal.