Kilkenny councillors set to be given more powers to determine how much property tax we pay
KILKENNY councillors are set to be given more powers to decide what levels of property tax to charge homeowners across the city and county.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has signalled the Government will cede more powers to local authorities as part of a series of measures to prevent a massive hike in local property tax (LPT) bills later this year.
Councillors currently have the power to vary the LPT rate up or down by 15%. But Mr Varadkar confirmed a controversial proposal tabled by Culture Minister Josepha Madigan to allow councils to have even more freedom to vary the rates is being considered.
Kilkenny County Council currently charges the standard rate of LPT as set by the Government. Last September council members voted to keep the rate of property tax unchanged for the second year in a row.
However, the council is likely to come under greater pressure to reduce the rate of LPT as property values across Kilkenny have risen significantly in recent years, meaning local homeowners face higher levies later this year.
The LPT is assessed at 0.18pc of a property’s market value and is designed to fund local services. The rates paid by households are based on valuations after the economic crash, but prices have risen considerably since then.
Average house prices in Kilkenny in the final quarter of 2018 stood at €221,000 – a rise of 7%. This was 2% above the national average 67% higher than the average of a home in Kilkenny at the lowest point of the property crash.
People now fear they will face dramatically increased bills in 2020. But Mr Varadkar has insisted the Government will find a way to ensure the “vast majority” of people will pay the same amount of tax.
“There are different mechanisms and different options we can use to make sure that the vast majority of people pay the same amount of property tax. You can do that either by reducing the rates or widening the bands to reflect the fact house prices have gone up,” he told reporters over the weekend.
Mr Varadkar said councillors should be allowed to “make some of those hard choices between how much money they want to spend in their local authorities…and what they want the property tax to be”.