CORK County Council did not collect any derelict site levies in 2021, as its chief executive has said that collection of levies for derelict sites is “challenging” when property owners prove unable to pay.
An audit of Cork County Council for 2021, prepared by the Local Government Audit Service, has shown this occurred despite sending out invoices regarding four properties.
Invoices totalling €34,000 were issued by Cork County Council, but by the end of the year no levies were collected and the total debtor figure for derelict site levies owed to the council stood at €340,000.
Given the poor collection rate, management made an almost full provision for the levy arrears in the council’s annual financial statement.
The audit noted that Cork County Council has introduced a countywide standardised approach to management of derelict sites, but said that “further work is required to identify and assess additional potential derelict sites to ensure an appropriate application of the levy”.
In a response to the audit findings, the county council’s chief executive Tim Lucey said that the local authority has placed a strong focus on property activation matters, including tackling vacant and derelict sites, in recent times.
“As part of the overall approach, the council’s municipal district operations and rural development directorate has deployed a range of actions including a countywide set of policies and procedures, quarterly progress reports and a pro- active review of sites on the DS registers,” he said.
Mr Lucey said that the collection of levies is “challenging”, in particular where property owners are not able to pay the levies due to financial, health, or other circumstances, including hardship cases.
“The council, through its property activation unit, is currently examining opportunities to utilise CPO powers to acquire some strategic/prominent sites,” he said.