THE planned introduction of the household charge has been dismissed as “just another burden” on local authorities.
The comment was made by Green Party councillor, Brian Meaney last week at Ennis Town Council’s annual budget meeting.
Details of the charge are contained in a circular issued to the council from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
In it, Colm Lavery, Principal Ofﬁcer, Local Government Finance Section states that the Government is introducing a household charge to meet the requirements of the EU/ IMF programme of ﬁnancial support for Ireland.
He continued, “The household charge is an interim measure and proposals for a full property tax will be considered by the Government in due course. The Exchequer contribution to the Local Government Fund has been replaced by the income from the household charge for 2012.”
The plans were criticised by Cllr Meaney who told the meeting that the charge would have a negative effect on local authority ﬁnances.
He said there would be a net loss in central government funding to the council.
Describing it as a burden, Cllr Meaney said, “This is the last of a long list of straws placed on this camel’s back.”
He was sharply critical of a section of the circular that highlights Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan views on the need for continued reduction in commercial rates.
Mr Lavery writes, “The General Purpose Grant allocation continues to provide a very signiﬁcant contribution towards the current expenditure needs of your authority for 2012. As part of a range of measures to aid economic recovery, the minister is clear on the need for continued reductions in commercial rates over the coming years and again requests that local authorities exercise restraint in setting commercial rates and local charges for 2012, in order to support competitiveness in the economy, nationally and locally, and to protect the interests of communities. Local authorities have responded positively to previous requests for restraint and, in light of the current, challenging environment for business, it is strongly urged that this restraint be continued.”
Cllr Meaney said Ennis Town Council has always exercised restraint and did not need to be told to do so by the Government.
On rates, he said the minister had used “loose language” in the circular, adding, “We’e not burdening the business community.”
He said national government had “foisted” an unfair system of funding on local authorities that left overly reliant on rates for income.
“I completely reject the language used in the circular, he added.
Cllr Tommy Brennan (Ind) said the council needs income from rates and parking charges.
He said, “Our hands have been tied and have been tied for a long number of years.”
Cllr Frankie Neylon (Ind) said he wished the council could reduce rates but in the current economic climate such thinking was “only a fools paradise”.