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Wicklow Co Co must find the money to pay property tax on council houses

Wicklow County Manager Eddie Sheehy said there was “no provision in the budget for any payment in relation to local authority houses”.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

WICKLOW COUNTY MANAGER Eddie Sheehy told the annual Wicklow County Council budget meeting yesterday there was no provision in the budget for the payment of property tax on local authority houses.

In the national budget announced on 5 December, the government said that local authorities will have to pay for the local property tax for local authority dwellings, apart from dwellings for the elderly and some other categories.

Mr Sheehy said it was “a very late announcement” and the 2013 budget for Wicklow County Council was made before it.

When asked if it would possibly entail the increase in local authority rents, Mr Sheehy said he wouldn’t rule it out:

It could entail possibly anything, we’ll look at the options if the government decision holds firm.

But just to emphasise, in case there is any doubt about it, there is no provision in the budget before you for any payment in relation to local authority houses for the local government.

The council will now have to carry out an evaluation exercise on local authority houses to calculate what they owe starting from 1 July.

Mr Sheehy told TheJournal.ie that Wicklow County Council has “an annual budget of around €90 million”, with around 2,000 council houses and depending on house evaluations, the council could owe somewhere between “€150,000 to €200,000″.

We had a €379,000 cut to our funding in the second half of this year because of the low collection of the household charge and we had to deal with that so we’ll have to deal with this also.

Mick Glynn, Wicklow County Councillor and Bray Cathaoirleach, told TheJournal.ie it was bad timing by the government:

I don’t think this is thoroughly thought through. I think it is ill-timed, especially when people are feeling hardship and the idea of raising rents to pay for the charge is unacceptable. Savings need to be found within the budget.

Many County Councils around the country are in the same predicament as Wicklow including Galway City Council. A spokesperson for Galway said councillors have unanimously passed a resolution “rejecting the imposition of a Property Tax on local authority houses and houses provided by voluntary bodies”.

Read: First vote on Local Property Tax Bill passes in Dáil >

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Amy Croffey

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