Thousand euro bill for Sligo households

Property tax drives household charges to record high

Joe Queenan
Council chair, Joe Queenan (FF)

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have joined forces to maintain property tax at among the highest levels in the country.

At a meeting of the county council last month members of both parties voted down a notice of motion, tabled by Independent member, Cllr. Declan Bree, which would have allowed families a substantial cut in the rate. They took the decision after hearing an account of the council’s financial position from CEO, Ciaran Hayes.

The move now leaves Sligo householders facing total or combined charges amounting to in the region of €1000 per year for the family home, water rates and the Fianna Fail supported mandatory waste collection services.

The agenda for the September meeting included an item in the name of Cllr. Michael Clarke calling for a 5% hike in the property tax.

Both Cllr. Clarke and Cllr. Margaret Gormley abstained when the vote on the proposed 15% cut in the property tax was taken.

Meanwhile, the council is living with a debt overhang of upwards of €100 million. The prospect of any relief in the form of government funding seems remote, a signal perhaps that next year the vote at council level could be for a substantial increase in the property charge, if not the introduction of an additional new levy.

The prevailing debt is fuelled by among other things the millions of euros that the council has to find for legal fees arising out of the Supreme Court ruling against a resolution of council members relating to rights of way through the Lissadell estate in the north of the county

Back in July, Hayes said he would have difficulty finding funds to maintain road works if members elected to reduce the property tax rate. He said at the time that there were no funds to carry out certain housing activity or the purchase of books for the library.

Despite this, however, the council is planning to embrace a financial partnership arrangement with Knock Regional Airport. It is not yet known what the scale of the investment is destined to run to, or if the arrangement will involve the council sharing responsibility for any existing or future debts of the airport.