THE proposed property tax will “cause mayhem” for Government candidates in the next local elections, Cllr Seamus Morris has warned. He pointed out that local authority property taxes will have to be either paid for by the local authority or the tenant, and there was a proposal that the minimum local authority weekly payment should be increased to E50 a week.
“This is coming at a time when the local authorities are losing services hand over fist, with water being privitised and housing practically gone,” he said.
The Sinn Fein councillor said that the tax was the wrong tax at the wrong time for the wrong reasons and had the potential to dominate the 2014 local elections, with tens of thousands of people being criminalised because of their objection to the tax.
“The tax will see the new councils starting life at a massive disadvantage because they will be minus the NPPR, which is being scrapped, minus the Local Government Fund, and already the Revenue have dipped their hands into the property tax pot by saying that only 65 per cent of the tax collected is going back to the local authority,” he said.
Cllr Morris added that there was also the provision in the property tax legislation to take the tax from social welfare payments, which, he warned, will be divisive when it starts.
“The proper way to do this is to have a national debate about property tax and what services it should pay for. An example used regularly by those in Government is the property tax in the Six Counties, but they fail to tell people that the property tax pays for real local services such as free refuse collection, free schoolbuses, free schoolbooks, free septic tanks servicing once a year, free community multisports facilities, while Labour and Fine Gael expect to get people to pay for a property tax and pay also for community facilities through paying for sports club fundraisers for their own facilities, schoolbuses, schoolbooks and refuse collection,” he said.
The Nenagh-based town and county councillor warned that it looked as if the next batch of councillors will only have one role - to become “glorified rate collectors”.
“I feel that if people had those services free then they would be more prepared to pay the tax. This tax is being brought in at a time when people are broke and just cannot afford any extra taxes for less services,” he said.
Cllr Morris called for the tax to be scrapped until there was a proper debate on what people were willing to pay for and how much they were willing to pay.
“The other big fly in the ointment is the ability of councils being able to set the tax locally at plus or minus 15 per cent, which will, I’m sure, have people canvassing in 2014 with the catchphrase of vote for me and pay 15 per cent less property tax! But remember this, 600,000 people still haven’t registered so the revenue won’t have their details,” he stated.