Councillors not convinced to go for property tax ‘deal’

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Sligo county councillors were not persuaded to entertain an increase in the property tax as part of a deal being offered to ease their present financial situation, it emerged at a special meeting of the council on Monday.

The deal would have involved the council agreeing to a 15% increase in the Local Property Tax in Sligo, in return for having access to an extra just under €1 million to spend on local projects and services including providing extra money to keep all three branch libraries in the county open.

What was described by Cathaoirleach, Councillor Hubert Keaney, as a “good deal for Sligo” came out of a meeting last week between Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney, the council cathaoirleach, council CEO Ciaran Hayes and Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin.

That meeting, to discuss the financial plan imposed on the council by the department, was organised following the outcry over the temporary closing of the central library in Sligo and the threat that either it or one of libraries in Ballymote or Tubbercurry could be closed more long-term.

Monday’s meeting of the council had been scheduled before the present library situation emerged.

It is a meeting that must be held every year to discuss “a local adjustment factor” to the Local Property Tax. Each local authority can decide to increase or decrease the national property tax rates by up to 15% in their own area.

Independent Socialist councillor Declan Bree, seconded by Cllr Gino O’Boyle of People Before Profit, proposed a 15% reduction in the tax.

Cllr Bree said the tax “has been used by central government to pay off the debts of the speculators, developers and the bankers. These taxes are unfair, these taxes are unjust, these taxes are immoral”.

He and Cllr O’Boyle were supported by Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Healy.

For more on this story see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper, in shops now!

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