Clare’s Fianna Fáil Councillors have dismissed any suggestion of a split within the party, following a vote on the local property tax.
Homeowners in the county will be hit with a 15% increase in the tax from next year, after councillors voted in favour of the move last evening, in a bid to boost funding for local services.
But there was a split in the Fianna Fáil vote.
Twelve Fianna Fáil Councillors were present for last evening’s vote on the Local Property Tax, a meeting which was delayed for 45 minutes after a request by the party for more time to allow it hold further discussions.
And when they returned, evidence of a split within its ranks was obvious as seven Councillors voted in favour, and five against the 15% tax increase.
Fine Gael voted in favour, while the remaining Councilors were split, resulting in a result of 16 votes to 8.
Maghera Fianna Fáil Councillor Pat Hayes was among those who voted in favour of the increase, on the basis that the increased funds will go into projects in rural areas that otherwise would never see the light of day.
While he’s not in favour of how the tax is structured, Coucnillor Hayes says its a necessary evil.
His party colleague Mark Nestor said he is concerned about the ability of ordinary households to meet increased costs, particularly in light of potential economic difficulties posed by Brexit and the beef crisis.
But while he voted No, the Ennis Councillor has played down the split in the party vote.
Last night’s result means Clare Councillors will have access to increased levels of discretionary funding next year, to spend on local projects.
The additional €500,000 for the General Municipal Allocations is one of a suite of measures now promised by the Council.
The move will cost most homeowners less than a euro a week, but it means that Clare homeowners are to be taxed the maximum possible amount under law.
Clare County Council CEO Pat Dowling says the increase in revenue will allow the local authority to invest in more projects throughout the county.