Local Property Tax: My OpinionPosted 15 Oct. 2015
Submistted to Forum Newspaper
I am submitting this opinion piece to balance the equation with regards to discussions about the Local Property Tax and the decision to keep it as it is. 18 out of 40 councillors voted to neither increase nor decrease the LPT this year and it is to be noted that over a quarter of Fianna Fáil Councillors were missing when this vote took place.
It was requested by the Meath County Council’s finance department to retain the LPT figure because if it was decreased, they would not have been able to balance the books. This means that the Council would either go into debt, or be forced to cut back on services.
Each one of the 40 Councillors – regardless of whether they voted for the retention or reduction of LPT – obtained €12,000 in discretionary funding to spend specifically on community services, groups and initiatives in their local areas. Also, because the LPT was kept as it is, €400,000 has been allocated to spend on homeless services in Meath; we have always made sure that nobody in this county has been left without a roof over their heads and have always been provided with accommodation where necessary.
Had we lowered the LPT, the most vulnerable people in our society would have suffered and that’s a fact. There was no question of considering what could be achieved if we had have raised the tax. The money could have been used to provide a fantastic community service for example: a public swimming pool, a community bus for the elderly, more facilities for young people, school buses, a dog park, a skate park, more playgrounds etc. We need be able to look into the future and make long-term decisions that will affect future generations of people in our towns and leave a legacy that they can be proud of.
Finally, in light of Mental Health Week earlier this month, I also want to highlight instances of bullying activity towards local Councillors. During the debate on LPT, people on social media forums and also some people who protested outside the Council during the vote engaged in some vile behaviour and said some nasty, horrible things to my fellow Councillors including Sharon Keogan. It is on another occasion that Joe Bonner was stopped in his car, verbally threatened and intimidated which is completely unacceptable. We are all human beings at the end of the day and nobody deserves abuse like that. If some people do not like how things are done within the Council, there are other channels to air your grievances i.e the ballot box.
I want to reiterate that all 40 Councillors of all parties in Meath have the public’s best interests at heart and are continually working towards building a better county for everyone.