The Household Charge was a major topic of discussion at this month’s Leitrim County Council meeting. Following the “stark presentation” of financial figures for the third quarter of the year revealing a €1.3 million budget over run, much focus was placed on the €291,000 withheld by the Government for non compliance with the Household charge.
When the withdrawal of €291,000 was sanctioned from Leitrim’s budget, 61% of Leitrim residents had registered for the Household Charge, that figure has now grown to 64.4%.
The collection rate is well “above the national average” according to County Manager Jackie Maguire who is also Chairperson of the Household Charge Project.
Jackie Maguire said the collection performance will impact on the rest of the year and an increase in payment could prevent some curtailment of services.
A review on the Household charge compliances is expected in October and it is understood that if Leitrim’s compliance rate is increased the €291,000 could be released.
Cllr Paddy O’Rourke asked if the €100 paid by local residents goes straight to Leitrim County Council or to a central fund.
The County Manager said the Leitrim County Council receives the majority of its money from the Local Government Fund - this was previously made up of motor tax and exchequer money.
But with no money in the exchequer the Household Charge was expected to raise €160m. Leitrim “highly depends on the Local Government Fund” and this funding is often subsidized by larger counties with more income.
Cllr Gerry Dolan said many who have not paid are worried the money is going to “pay the banks.” He was reassured it was going into the central fund.
Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny said the cut backs were “not the fault of the people of Leitrim” he blamed the large amount of money spent on paying unsecured bondholders.
Cllr Enda McGloin said the council’s allocation of money depends on the Household Charge.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Gerry Kilrane displayed dismay that those who paid their Household Charge will suffer core services being cut due to those not paying the charge.