‘Grossly unfair’ budget adopted by county council

The Local Property Tax (LPT) paid by County Wicklow homeowners this year has been set aside to pay for the establishment of new semi-state company Irish Water.

The disclosure came at Monday’s annual budget meeting of Wicklow County Council where the council learned that its general purpose grant from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for 2014 would be cut to €3.44mn — down from over €14mn the previous year.

Figures given at the meeting showed that if 100% of the property tax was collected and given to the council it would amount to €16.5mn.

However, with €11mn allocated for the establishment of Irish Water, Wicklow taxpayers will find that onlyaround 22% of the LPT will go toward funding local services.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor John Brady said the people of Wicklow had been “sold a pup” by the Government and described the budget as “grossly unfair”.

“Scandalously, in the region of €11mn has been given to Irish Water from the property tax that the people of Wicklow paid,” Cllr Brady said. “This funding will allow Irish Water take control of the water services that the council had operated and also start the roll out of domestic water metering in 2014.

“We all remember the false promises and the fancy booklets that were given outlining the better services that would be forthcoming if people paid this tax. Unfortunately, what has materialised is exactly what Sinn Féin and I predicted as just another money grab.”

Brady was also critical of the council’s plan to increase rents for those living in council houses by 3%, with a further increase planned for next year.

“Many council tenants are in social housing because of financial reasons and are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Only this week we saw figures that 14,000 Wicklow people are in food poverty, this will only serve to add more people to that list.”

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