Leitrim County Council has been left with a bill for €40,770 for 2013 property tax owed on it’s rental properties.
At Monday’s Council meeting it emerged that the Council were now left with the liability after the Government indicated it would not be imposing the charge on local authority tenants.
There had been concern that Councils would add a small increase to weekly rents in order to generate funds to meet the tax bill, however Leitrim County Council management confirmed that they will have to finance the 2013 liability from the Housing Maintenance Funds.
Although the Government has decided not to impose the charge on local authority tenants, this decision has left Councils to finance the payment from other housing funds.
While provision has now been made to meet the liability for this year, Council management have warned that further cuts will have to be made to services if the Local Authority is to meet their property tax obligations in 2014.
The bill next year will exceed €80,000 and councillors have already expressed concerns about the impact of financing this additional tax.
Fianna Fail councillor, Tony Ferguson said this would have serious repercussions for the county.
“I suggest we put through a motion asking the Government to take up the cost of this. We can’t finance this,” he noted.
Party colleague, Cllr Mary Bohan seconded the motion saying the only option for the Council was to apply for increased funding or increase rents.
Cllr Gerry Bohan said that he genuinely believed that tenants should have to pay the property tax.
“I accept the sentiment of the motion put forward (by Cllr Ferguson) but I don’t think that Local Authority Tenants should be exempt from tax,” he said.
Cllr Enda McGloin said it was vital the Government give clarity on exactly how Councils were expected to finance this tax.
“I previously understood that Local Authorities would be able to raise rents by a nominal amount per week to meet this cost. If this isn’t the case then, in the long run, everyone in this county will lose out,” he told the Chamber.
“I know that the argument has been put forward that those in Local Authority housing can’t afford this tax but the fact is there are plenty of others who are in private housing who are facing this tax and many of them are under severe financial pressure as well.
“We are all using the services in the county and this is a tax to finance those services so no one should be exempt.”
He suggested the Council contact local Oireachtas members on this matter.
“We should contact them and the Minister and get this situation clarified. We can’t sustain this,” he said.
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