There are three issues here: cause and effect, the distribution of costs, and priorities.
In terms of causes:
We know well about the removal of the local government fund, for which the Local Property Tax was a way of externalising costs onto counties. This was a Central Government decision.
There was also the issue of the hole punctured in our budget, by the statewide “Globalisation of Rates” for certain commercial entities. Compensation for which is unlikely for the future. Another Central Government decision, and cause of problems, whose effects we are supposed to solve.
In terms of the distribution of costs:
Over the past decade, Statewide household income has fallen on average by about 15% (even higher, for the lowest incomes).
Additionally to this: there are what the ESRI call “Policy Induced Losses” as an extra burden . From the legion of so-called small charges and cuts, these amount to about a further 10% for an average family, to 20% for unemployed singles.
What concerns us, is that in voting for an increase, we are in principle validating this entire system, and insulating central government from its responsibilities.
We publicly warned last year the council was setting a precedent: new charges rarely go other than in one direction – up. This confirms we were correct.
There is also the looming danger in 2019 of increasing property prices, bumping people into higher tax brackets – without a guaranteed corresponding increase of disposable income to service these charges first.
We are certainly not against investing in innovative Capital projects. We appreciate that locally we are left with only certain levers to control our own path, in the absence of other central government support.
However, we can validly question whether everything on this wish-list has to be given the same priority, if it means continuing to increase the full spectrum burden on local property tax payers.
As one concrete example: we are concerned about the lingering possibility for the proposed Rosslare-Waterford railway line to be deconstructed by stealth, in the pursuit of a greenway project.
An otherwise laudable attempt at creating tourist amenities, should in no way threaten to key transportation infrastructure connecting the South and West of Ireland, to Rosslare Europort – this is especially true on the eve of Brexit.
Nonetheless, we could still allocate €400,000 local funding per year, of the €2,000,000 proposed for 3 years for that project. That could cover both the 10% raise suggested – and a 3% Local Property Tax reduction from the base.
But we are not suggesting that only one project should be focussed on; maybe not every high-end marina or prestige project needs to be given front priority, all at once.
This is especially true if we are asking the public to bear other increasing costs and charges as well.
We continue to call for a 15% Local Property Tax reduction over 5 years (3% a year).
 https://www.esri.ie/pubs/BP201802.pdf Table, p.10
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