Green Party blasts 'cowardly' decision to 'run away' from property tax increases in Cork city

Green Party blasts 'cowardly' decision to 'run away' from property tax increases in Cork city

People living in the city will see no change to their property tax payments in 2020

PEOPLE living in the city will see no change to their property tax payments in 2020 after councillors voted to retain the status quo.

Just days after Cork County Council voted to increase the tax by 5% for county residents, City Hall representatives decided to maintain the existing tax rates within the expanded city boundary. 

The council met tonight to vote on whether to adjust the tax, using a system described by Green Party Councillor Dan Boyle as a “democratic outrage.” 

Councillors were talked through a report from the Chief Executive Ann Doherty recommending an increase of 15% which would generate an extra €3.1m in revenue for the local authority.

A 15% increase would have meant an increased annual payment of €47.25 for 77% of city homeowners.

Mrs Doherty said the extra funding could be used to improve council services.

As expected, all Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Councillors voted not to adjust the tax, with 19 votes for leaving the tax as it stands and 8 votes to adjust the LPT in some form.

The four Green Party councillors, Oliver Moran, Dan Boyle, Lorna Bogue and Collette Finn, voted in favour of an adjustment, with the view to raising the tax by 15%.

The Greens had hoped the extra money would be ringfenced for cycleways and footpath repairs, as well as community investments, such as playgrounds and community centres.

Before the vote, there was a dispute over the sequence of meeting, with Green councillors Dan Boyle and Oliver Moran requesting the right to debate the adjustment before casting preferences.

However, they were refused the chance to argue in favour of increasing the tax.

Lord Mayor John Sheehan said the same process had been followed for the past five years since the tax was first introduced and it was the system in place for the proceedings.

Mr Boyle told the room it was a “democratic outrage” and said as public representatives, they need to justify every vote that was undertaken.

Fellow Green Party councillor Oliver Moran described the shutting down of debate as cowardly.

"No matter your position, what happened tonight was utter cowardice. The first responsibility of an elected representative is to stand up and be counted. Running away from debate has no place in politics. They should hang their heads in shame.

"The Chief Executive laid out that we had the opportunity before us to turn €3 million in local taxes into €12 million in matched funds from Dublin and Brussel. That's money now stolen from every street and neighborhood in the city.

"The 7,000 people who demonstrated in Cork last Friday want action. We had a plan to deliver sustainable transport and transform communities in every corner of this city. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin had nothing. They were ashamed to even speak for themselves. And they've now robbed the people of this city because of that."

Speaking to The Echo, the Lord Mayor said many of the councillors felt it was right to wait and see how the new areas are integrated over the next 12 months.

According to the budgets outlined by the council within the Chief Executives report, 2019 will see an income of €166m while the draft budget for 2020 estimates a budget of €221m, an increase of almost €55m due to the city expansion earlier this year.

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