Kilkenny Council chief: Why we’re hiking your property tax by 15%
By COLIN BARTLEY
KILKENNY County Council has defended the controversial 15% increase in local property tax (LPT) being imposed on homeowners in the city and county.
And the council’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said the increase came about due to her recommendation to council members.
Kilkenny councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the 15% increase which will net the council a further €1.125 million per annum. Just four elected representatives out of 24 opposed the increase.
Colette Byrne, the council’s CEO, in a statement released today, outlined the reasons behind the increase and said: “I had to consider the reality of the alternative.”
The CEO said the extra money would fund not-for-profit organisations, community groups, social programmes, administration support, community facilities, and health and safety around the county.
“The increase is necessary to maintain the council’s services but it is also necessary if the council is to continue to support many projects and groups across the city and county,” Ms Byrne said.
“The public may not fully appreciate the number of organisations that the council make a contribution to on an annual basis, organisations such as the Watergate Theatre, Rothe House, Castlecomer Discovery Park, Drum Youth Centre, Kilkenny Tourism, Kilkenny Archives, Butler Gallery, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, Kilkenny Energy Agency, Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership, Garda Youth Programme, Ossory Youth, many of whom depend on the council’s contribution to keep their doors open.
“These organisations may not be able to provide our communities with such a diverse range of community/recreational/social programmes without a contribution from the council. This is discretionary spend from the council’s perspective but in many cases, it is essential to the organisations who receive it”.
“Also, in recent years the council has become the conduit for national funding to local projects, through the CLÁR Programme, Town and Village Renewal Scheme and many others. Without the capacity to support the communities in putting applications together and in some cases provide matching funding, these projects would not happen.
“The projects range from work on local community facilities, halls, playgrounds, to road safety measures. These are all projects identified by local communities and the local elected members and advanced in partnership with the council. The increase in the LPT will allow the council to continue this valuable work”.
The CEO accepts the increase will be disliked in many quarters, but as the head of the council, she has to make the budget work and make the unpopular decisions.
“No one likes paying more, but when you consider the alternative, it may not be so palatable. In making my recommendation to the council, I had to consider the reality of the alternative – cutting funding to many worthy community projects and events across the city and county, or asking that households pay a little extra in the LPT.
“The increase for some households is 0.26 cents per week, for others it is 0.65 cents per week. For over 90% of households, it will be less than €1 per week.
“The question we have to answer is, do we value the organisations that are supported by the council and the work they do?
“The very essence of the LPT is that it is local, the extra money is retained locally and invested locally by the council on behalf of the people of Kilkenny.”