Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael likely to oppose city property tax rise

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael likely to oppose city property tax rise
Pic; Larry Cummins The national flags of Ireland and France fly together over City Hall, Cork on Sunday 15th November 2015. Cities and nations unite in solidarity against the terrorist attacks.Generic

CITY Hall’s two biggest parties will likely oppose any moves to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT).

Fianna Fáil senior representatives are pushing for the current rate of LPT to be retained amid uncertainty related to a by-election in Cork north central, a possible General Election in May of next year and the expanded city council authority area following May's boundary extension.

The party does not want to compromise its position and risk losing the seat vacated by Billy Kelleher in the north central ward which is being eyed by Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke, the Green Party’s Oliver Moran and its own candidate Padraig O'Sullivan.

Instead, it is believed Fianna Fáil will push for a 5% to 7% increase in LPT from 2021. Party members will meet shortly before the decision is taken in council chambers on Thursday.

Fine Gael’s Des Cahill told The Echo his party would like to see a 5% increase but he believes there are too many unresolved issues and they will likely mirror the Fianna Fáil stance.

“On balance, we are probably going to be in favour of [retaining the current rate] as there are too many moving parts between the economy, Brexit and issues around the new council.

“We are still in a bedding-in period. This is the first budget of this nature, with the increased city area and there is a view that we should see how our current budget will work and next year, if there was an increase, we would have a greater understanding of where that money would go. Right now the budget is very new.

“While we haven’t fully confirmed our position we have had many internal meetings as a group and currently, zero would be the option because there is too much uncertainty,” Mr Cahill added.

Sinn Féin had previously looked for a 15% reduction but are believed to have abandoned this stance in light of the expanded city area and will meet today to discuss whether to maintain the status quo or support an increase proposed by the Green Party.

The Greens are looking for a 15% increase in LPT in order to generate €3 million in revenue for the city council which could be ring-fenced for cycleways and footpath repairs, as well as community investments, such as playgrounds and community centres.

The party says €1.5m of this should 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.

Earlier this week, Cork county councillors voted to increase LPT by 5% with over 90% of homes having to fork out €15 extra.

County Hall chief executive Tim Lucey warned that the local authority would struggle to maintain services without increased funds following May’s city boundary extension which saw large rates bases in Ballincollig, Glanmire and Douglas ceded to the city.

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