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'A gun to our head': Dublin City Council votes to cut LPT rate by 15%

To keep TV fans interested, there was even a reference to The Wire during what proved to be a lively debate.

Updated: 8.15pm 

DUBLIN CITY COUNCILLORS have voted to reduce the rate of Local Property Tax by 15% in 2015.

The motion, which was backed by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, was passed with 46 votes in favour and 12 votes against.

Labour councillors did not support the reduction, instead proposing a 7.5% cut.

Labour’s leader on the council Dermot Lacey told that a reduction of 7.5% would free up €6million – €4.5million of which Labour councillors feel should be used to tackle homelessness and the remaining €1.5million on cleaning and local amenities.

He added that the party was “commited to having a look at [the rate] again next year”.

It would be somewhat imprudent to make such a giant leap in overall council funding.

Lacey said that approximately 150 people would be sleeping rough in Dublin city tonight, stating: “We believe that most people would like to see the money used for that rather than having a few extra cent in their pockets.”

A robust debate took place at Dublin City Hall this evening, during which People Before Profit Councillor Bríd Smith said that the Government had put “a gun to our head” over the issue.

She said that the Government “think it’s okay to behave like Marlo from The Wire”.

Smith added that it was “disgusting” and “outrageous” to bring homelessness into the debate.

At the end of the meeting, councillors voted for the Government to restore its funding for homeless services in the city to the former level of 90% of the funds required.

Green Party councillors opposed the 15% LPT rate decrease, instead calling for a more modest 5% reduction.

Conflicting proposals

City Manager Owen Keegan also proposed a 5% cut.

Fianna Fail councillor Paul McAuliffe told us that he understood Keegan “has a responsibilty to be prudent and present us with all the scenarios”. However, he added that he was confident “the Government will continue to fund important services like homelessness and allow us to keep 80% of the local property tax”.

Kieran Binchy, the leader of the Fine Gael group on the Council, said that a 15% reduction in 2015, rather than a phased reduction, would “put certainty in place”.

He added: “It will be interesting to see if the coalition [on the council] will be in place tomorrow.”

Breakdown of Dublin City Council seats by party []

The leader of the Sinn Féin group on the City Council, Séamas McGrattan, said that the LPT is “an inequitable and unfair tax that takes no account of ability to pay".

"In Dublin City we are proposing that it be reduced in 2015 by the full 15% allowed for in Government legislation.

“We have proposed this change in Councils across the State so as to ease the burden of austerity on those on low to middle incomes. That burden is to be added to with the forthcoming water tax over which councillors have no control. We see it is our duty to provide this measure of relief from the full impact of the Family Home Tax in 2015."

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Other Councils

Earlier today Wicklow County Council, South Dublin County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council voted to reduce the rate of LPT by 15%. Fingal Council Council is due to discuss the subject tomorrow.

Cork County Council voted to reduce the LPT rate by 10%, while Cork City Council will vote on the issue next week.

Kerry County Council and Galway City Council have voted to keep the rate as it is.

Lucan Councillor William Lavelle (Fine Gael) was among those to welcome South Dublin County Council's decision, tweeting that it will inject €5million in to the local economy.

However, independent Councillor Paul Gogarty dismissed the move as "a cynical exercise in populism".

Gogarty said that the vote marked "a regressive step that will result in local services and facilities continuing to be curtailed from the cutbacks that have taken place over the last five years".

"If you disagree with the principle of a property tax, fair enough, but if you are a member of Fine Gael whose Government brought in this measure, it is the height of hypocrisy to try and play the good cop by providing relief from the nasty Government who brought in this tax and trumpeting it as a triumph for local democracy," he added.

Originally published: 6.07pm

Read: Dublin City Council is considering cutting the property tax

Read: Fingal Council vote to reduce property tax for 2015… but they can’t ratify decision just yet

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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