Dublin City Council is expected to make cuts to essential services as it faces a €39 million deficit due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Last night, the council decided to keep the current 15 per cent cut to the local property tax and not go any further.
Councillors voted by a margin of 34-21 to retain the lower rate. Speaking to BreakingNews.ie, Green Party councillor Claire Byrne said the decision will cause the council to make drastic changes.
“We don’t know where we are going to find that money now. As my colleague Michael Pidgeon said last night, we also look after fire, ambulance services, waste and homelessness services. We are going to have make cuts now across the board.”
A number of council members hit back at the decision, claiming it was a missed opportunity to recoup desperately needed funds.
Ms Byrne said the decision now puts the council in a worse state.
“I generally proposed a five per cent increase [in property tax]. We need to figure out ways to fund local government services and this year in particular, we are very aware of the financial pressure many people are under due to the Covid crisis. “Dublin City Council is in crisis financially as well because we have seen a massive drop in our revenue due to a drop in parking fees and rates.
She said with the deficit the council is facing, the increased property tax who have brought in €12 million, which as he said “is a significant amount of money.”
Ms Byrne said the money raised from an increased local property tax would have also added to the council’s discretionary fund for local services:”It would fund essential services; things like community events, initiatives for dog fouling and illegal dumping, extra footpath fixing, green spaces and tree planting, supporting community groups and extra money for refurbishing homes to get people out of hotels and off the streets.”
She found it “incredibly difficult” to understand the reasons why many Dublin city councillors voted to keep the tax at same the rate.She said while it is not a “perfect tax” it is the closest thing that Ireland has to a wealth tax.
Broken window syndrome
As she put it: “The more valuable your home is the more tax you have to pay. There are a quite of number of thresholds as well where people don’t have to pay, such as people renting and people living in council houses.”I don’t see why we are voting against a tax that is actually quite progressive and serves all the citizens of Dublin.”
While she did acknowledge that keeping the tax at the current rate would save between the average Dublin household between €14 and €61, she said it will have a “devastating impact” on providing the community with essential services.
She said overall not having enough funding for these local services can have a major impact on different areas in the city:”You could end up having the risk of the broken window syndrome. If you don’t have proper waste management, the more litter you have, the less pride people have in their place.
“Then there is the mental health impact of that and you end up in this vicious cycle,” she said.
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