Local Property Tax, Again
By Lois Kapila
Councillors made the same points at their special meeting on Tuesday evening to set the local property tax for the coming year that they made at similar meetings for the last three years.
They also voted through the same course of action: to cut the local property tax by 15 percent for the next 12 months.
Dublin City Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan had recommended that they trim it by just 10 percent – which would have meant an extra €4 million for the council to spend. “I’m suggesting a modest reduction,” he said.
For homeowners, that would have meant paying between 9 cents and 48 cents a week more than they would with a full 15 percent cut.
Keegan drew up a list of items the council could spend that money on, including, among other measures, extra street cleaning and road-maintenance staff, recruitment of apprentices, more graffiti removal, and the abolition of library fines.
But most councillors, from Fine Gael all the way across to People Before Profit, rejected Keegan’s proposal.
Sinn Féin’s Noeleen Reilly said that her party, which is the biggest on the council, had been elected on a pledge to minimise the local property tax. So it couldn’t go back on that.
Fianna Fáil’s Tom Brabazon said it is an “anti-Dublin tax” because of the high value of properties in the city. Some of the money raised in Dublin is also redistributed to other parts of the country.
Green Party councillors, meanwhile, put forward a motion to decrease the property tax by only 7.5 percent, and use the extra money to also provide a “one-stop shop to address dereliction and underuse of lands and buildings in the city”.
Labour councillors put forward a plan that went further, with just a 5 percent reduction. Included in their motion as a use for the extra money was €2.5 million for the council to directly build social housing through the O Cualainn co-housing model.
The full 15 percent reduction won out, though. “I think this is one of the most bizarre debates I’ve witnessed in the council chamber,” said Labour Councillor Jane Horgan-Jones.
Homes in Kildonan?
By Laoise Neylon
Councillors in the north-west of the city agreed plans for 200 homes for a large J-shaped parcel of land off Kildonan Road in Finglas West.
Under the plans, the homes would be a mixture of one- and two-storey houses, duplex units and apartments. There would also be two parks, an outdoor gym, a playground, a sports area and a community centre.
If this plan moves forward, the Abigail Centre, a homeless hostel on the site, will have to go. Councillors could have chosen an option that would have left the hostel in place, but that would have meant space for 100 fewer homes.
“It’s an ideal place for housing, as it is near good transport links,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan, who lives near the site, after the meeting.
Connaghan hopes the development will mirror the mix of other large council sites: with 50 percent private homes, 30 percent social housing and 20 percent affordable housing.
The draft plan that the councillors in the north-west area have approved, which is called a site framework study, will now have to go before the full council for approval.
There is no funding in place yet to build the 200 homes the plan envisions, but Connaghan said the Department of Housing should provide it, since the government has said there is no shortage of funding for housing.