Kildare County Council (KCC) is owed more than €53.9m in development and planning levies, and its county manager is adamant “tight procedures” will recover these long and short-term debts.
However, concern has been expressed that they will not even recover ‘a small part’ of this debt due to the downturn in the economy and the collapse of the construction industry with many firms gone bust.
The issue was raised by Cllr. Tony O’Donnell, who asked for a report on the arrears on unpaid development levies and what measures KCC was taking to combat this.
According to a council report, which was presented at yesterday’s county council meeting (February 27), short-term debtors owe €4.8m and long-term debtors have an outstanding €49.1m. This information was complied from the KCC Annual Financial Statement for 31 December 2011 that will published shortly.
KCC said it intends to collect the short-term debts in 2012. In terms of long-term debts, KCC manager Martin Malone stressed the figures need to be taken into context.
“These [total long-term debt figure] include those that have been invoiced, are on our system and must remain there until the planning permission expires at which time the levy will wither. It also includes those developments that are in receivership, examinership and so on and cases which are subject to a court process.”
In addition, the long-term debtor figure is inclusive of development contribution charges that may not be collectable by the planning authority because the development has not proceeded, the period for completion of the development expired, the planning authority agreed to phased/deferred payment.
KCC also estimated that, of this long-term debt, approximately €8m relates to one-off houses with the remainder relating to large housing development, commercial development, agri/horticultural/equine and so on.
Cllr Tony O’Donnell said: “As public representatives we need to maintain a ‘watching brief’ on this issue.” He stressed the overall figure of €50m was misleading and needs to be taken into context based on the KCC report presented. Cllr Martin Miley said many home-owners who built one-off housing were struggling to pay their levy. He called for greater “compassion”.
Cllr Padraig McEvoy said a priority is to ensure bonds are in place in many unfinished. Cllr Darren Scully asked what was the number of legal actions that KCC is engaged in regarding unpaid levies, and how many companies/persons were involved. County Manager Martin Malone again stressed the figures have to be put in context and said a follow-up report will be issued shortly.