Councillor Tom Fortune described Monday’s Council meeting on Property Tax as a three card trick. He says the decision taken was the wrong decision and so unfair to the people of Wicklow. To put it in context : The finance director of WCC presented the numbers to the members, making a big play on £1.1 euro discretionary funding that would be divided across the five Municipal Districts, resulting in €208,197 euro for four districts (there are six of councillors in each district and €277,596 for Bray (eight councillors ).
Councillor Fortune said “this would just about pay for a feasibility study in each district and this is where the THREE CARD TRICK is played. We were told it would pay for footpaths and other works, this is totally disingenuous. We were told that the rate would be 6% meaning 106% of the base rate and that this was not an increase even though it was 6% above the base rate. The equalisation element that was retained this year of €3.7m was taken by the department and allocated to building, the department reducing building allocation by almost four million euro. Property tax was never intended for this.
The meeting was then opened to the members. FF immediately proposed the 6% which was seconded by FG. Cllr Fortune says this was a pre arranged strategy to ensure this would be the 1st vote therefore making sure there would be no other votes on any other proposal. A discussion followed this proposal that lasted for two hours. There were a number of other proposals — Councillor Behan proposed a reduction of 15% which was seconded by myself — Councillor Snell proposed that we stay at the base rate which was a reduction of 6% which was seconded by Councillor Kavanagh. — I stated that I did not support property tax as it was constructed unfairly and is very unfair on the people of Wicklow.
There was a long discussion ending in a vote . So the first proposal made by FF and seconded by FG was put to the members. What was voted on was as follows “ To retain the property tax at the 22% level which is an increase on the base rate of 6%, this was the exact proposal put to the the members by the meeting administrator . This was accepted by 23 votes to 9 ( Cllrs Kavanagh , Leonard, Behan, Fortune, Snell, O’Neill, Dermot ‘O Brien, McManus, Scott) voted against this very unfair proposal. Because this vote was passed the other proposals could not be voted on . This was the strategy put in place before the meeting. The quick proposal was to block any of us having our proposals voted on. This is how the meeting progressed.
This was not a good or fair decision for the people of Wicklow. At a time when people are struggling with increased costs for everything, when the government are putting in family supports, twenty three members of Wicklow County council decide not to reduce the burden of property tax. I am flabbergasted to see the Labour Party , Social Democrats ,one Green Party member and two independent Cllrs supporting the FF/ FG proposal.
Some of the twenty three Councillors in past twenty four hours have been attacking the nine Councillors that voted against their proposal, this is very disingenuous.
The people of Wicklow were due and entitled to a break , however twenty three Councillors decided not to give it to them.”