COUNCIL tenants in Limerick city are facing an extra annual charge of €87 to cover the cost of the Local Property Tax (LPT), it has been revealed.
As part of the budget, which will be presented to councillors for approval on Monday, the council has said it has projected spend of €450,000 on the property tax for its 5,129 tenants.
And according to budget documents, “it is intended to recoup this money from our tenants by way of a charge on their rents”.
Although the figure of €87 was not mentioned in the official document, Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) Cian Prendiville questioned finance director Tom Gilligan at a pre-budget meeting and was told of this figure.
“The AAA is fundamentally opposed to this, and will be campaigning against it. The LPT falls to the owner of the property, the landlord, not the tenant,” Cllr Prendiville said.
The book of estimates - a series of recommendations presented to councillors ahead of the vote - reveals that it is anticipated that income derived from rents will rise by over €2m in 2015 - from €12.5m last year to €14.8m this year.
Meanwhile, council management are also proposing cuts to its contribution to waste collection services, from €519,268 last year, to €440,000 this year.
It is this sector which funds the bin waiver, a scheme which provides free bin collections to elderly, unemployed and vulnerable people in the city.
Around 3,800 people in the urban area avail of collections, while a subsidised collection service operates to a more limited extent in the former county area.
Cllr Prendiville fears if this gets voted through at Monday’s meeting, it will mean fewer people will be able to avail of the waiver.
“I have asked a lot of questions on this, but they [the council] still wont say what will happen. But it looks like some people who were entitled to the waiver last year will not be entitled to it this year. For those people, that means the loss of a waiver worth €200. Some of these people are the same as those affected by the Local Property tax, so they could stand to lose up to €300 from these two measures alone,” he said.
Limerick City and County Council will seek to maintain its commercial rate of 59c per rate of valuation.
Fianna Fail councillor James Collins, who leads his party in the metropolitan area said there is a consensus to pass a freeze in the rate, which is a property-based payment made by businesses to the local authority.
However, he acknowledged that due to the revaluation process which has taken place this year, many businesses have been left with a higher rates bill.
“We are trying to keep no change in the multiplier. Some people may have a change in their rate because they have been revalued by the valuation office. The councillors have no role to play in this process, but what we would certainly be trying to do is have no change in the multiplier which is in our remit,” he stressed.
Cllr Collins was also critical of the information members were given ahead of a pre-budget briefing on Monday.
“There are some major decisions which need to be made, but the documentation which [council CEO] Conn Murray and his management have made available to us is at a high-level summary. It is not very clear. I would not be happy to make a decision unless I had a full knowledge.”
Elsewhere, in a week where Limerick was ranked ‘Clean to European Norms’ in the IBAL Anti-Litter League, it has been disclosed that management at City Hall are to seek to reduce the amount of money spent on spraying the pathways to ensure there are no weeds will be cut by €30,000.