Roscommon county councillors voted in favour of maintaining the current Local Property Tax (LPT) rate at Monday’s monthly meeting, meaning households will pay the same amount in 2021.
Thirteen of eighteen councillors voted to retain last year’s level of LPT at its current level of 15 percent. A reduction would have created a deficit of just over €1 million (€1,000,069).
CEO Eugene Cummins had warned that a reduction in the rate would have resulted in massive cuts in spending on services such as public amenity and graveyard maintenance, swimming pools and match funding for community and voluntary projects.
Mr. Cummins said not maintaining the LPT rate would mean there was “no way forward”. He intimated that it would be difficult for elected members to explain to communities why funding was unavailable for projects in 2021.
Independent councillor Tony Ward had opposed maintaining the current rate along with three other Independent councillors and Sinn Féin’s Michael Mulligan.
He called on Roscommon County Council to seek financial support from the Government, claiming that the local authority had been denied up to €100 million in roads funding in recent years.
“Ratepayers have received a bail-out from the Government (during Covid-19 pandemic) so I can’t see any reason why Roscommon County Council can’t be bailed out too,” he said.
Fellow Independent Ivan Connaughton supported Cllr. Ward’s stance, saying that the current rate was actually an increase on previous years. He claimed that there would be a backlash from people who had been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr. John Cummins had proposed maintaining the current rate and was one of thirteen councillors to support the move. He described a presentation by Director of Services, Martin Lydon, detailing the local authority’s position ahead of its upcoming Budget as “very grave”.
Fianna Fáil Cllr. Orla Leyden asked where funding would be found if not through LPT.
“Nobody wants to see services cut so the Local Property Tax needs to be maintained at 2020 levels. We have to be realistic…services will be lost”.
Her party colleague Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice said there was “no option” but to maintain the current rate, describing the issue as “far too serious for councillors to be playing politics with”.
The motion to maintain the current Local Property Tax rate was carried by thirteen votes to five following a short adjournment of proceedings on Monday afternoon.