Community grant cut link to house charge

KILDARE County Council could be short over one and a half million euros by the end of the year as a result in the shortfall in household charge payment, the Council’s monthly meeting was told on Monday, 30 July.

KILDARE County Council could be short over one and a half million euros by the end of the year as a result in the shortfall in household charge payment, the Council’s monthly meeting was told on Monday, 30 July.

Councillors, who were partly critical of the Government decision not to allow installment payments, were also told that the cuts would be made to front line services and community grants were also likely to be targeted if there there was not an increase in payments.

Eamon O’Sullivan, standing in for County Manager, Michael Malone, said the Council income had been cut by E565,000 for the third quarter and, “more worryingly,” the cut could rise to E1.6m unless there was a significant move in payments.

The meeting heard that there are around 72,000 households in the county and 3,801 are local authority houses. Another 655 are voluntary or co-operative houses. That left 68,215 houses from whom the charge is due. Of these 39,015 had paid so there were 29,200 houses which had not paid.

Mr. O’Sullivan said KCC had done all it was asked of by the Minister to collect the charges and it had now issued 3,000 letter is the first tranche of letters. He said the Council continue to seek the payments, including going to Court and subject to compliance with the law.

He said there clearly would not be full compliance so they had to play ahead for reductions and these would impact on front line services.

“Bad news,” was how Cllr. Senan Griffin (FG) described the comments and questioned why there was no installment system. But, he added, the Council had no option but cut and grants such as essential repairs grants would likely suffer.

Cllr. Suzanne Doyle (FF) said the Government needed to be more progressive and there was inequity in the system.

She said some families, in negative equity and suffering job losses, were finding it hard to put food on the table and cannot pay their mortgages. The tax should be more equitable.

Cllr. Padraig McEvoy (Ind) said there were people on the breadline and there should be an option for part payments.

Cllr. Seamie Moore (Ind) said it had been a mistake by the Government to identify groups, like those on ghost estates, who did not have to pay. “We have to bring the people with us. We cannot ignore their needs,” he said.

Cllr. Mark Wall (Lab), agreed with Cllr. McEvoy, said they needed to explain where the E100 was spent. He also suggested a waiver system was being looked at on central Government level.

Cllr. Liam Doyle said the message should go out that the Council will take installments but the meeting heard that option was available early in the year and the deadline for applying it had passed.

A motion on this, proposed by Cllr. Frank O’Rourke, and seconded by Cllr. McEvoy, was agreed.

Cllr. Willie Callaghan said cutting grants such as those to residents associations would be a kick in the teeth.

Cllr. Darren Scully (Ind, who lost FG whip), said he did not see An Post or Revenue Commissioners having their income cut for failing to collect money.

He also said he understood at a meeting between the Council and Government TD, it was agreed that the full allocation from the LGF General Purpose Allocation would be paid if household payments reached 70%.

Mr. O’Sullivan told the meeting that the 2012 budget was already down E7m on 2011 and that the fourth quarter payment was due on 15 September.

- Henry Bauress