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Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Regeneration Projects (18 Sep 2019)

John Paul Phelan: I agree with virtually everything Deputy Ellis has said. I am not in a position to direct local authorities as to what they should do with sites like this or, indeed, with issues like this in their own functional areas. However, it would not be unreasonable to hope that Dublin City Council could begin the consultation process when the demolition works are actually happening, so that what...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Regeneration Projects (18 Sep 2019)

John Paul Phelan: Over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, some €211 million is being made available under the national regeneration programme to support the delivery of more than 1, 000 new social housing homes. Together with providing a significant number of new homes, the projects seek to address the causes of disadvantage in these communities through a...

Written Answers — Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government: Local Authority Funding (18 Sep 2019)

John Paul Phelan: Local Property Tax (LPT) is a vital source of funding for local authorities. Authorities use the funding in the provision, for example, of parks, libraries, leisure amenities, fire and emergency services and improvements to the public realm, all of which benefit citizens directly and improve the fabric of our communities and quality of life. LPT allocations are based on estimated...

Written Answers — Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government: Commercial Rates Impact (18 Sep 2019)

John Paul Phelan: Local businesses play a vital role in supporting local authorities to deliver critical services to their communities. Commercial Rates, at c€1.5bn per annum, make up roughly one third of local government current income. The Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019 was enacted earlier this year, in order to modernise and improve the rates system for ratepayers, local...

Written Answers — Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government: Electoral Register (6 Sep 2019)

John Paul Phelan: In order to vote at an election or a referendum a voter must be registered in the appropriate register of electors for that election or referendum. The Electoral Act 1992 provides for the registration of voters where they are ‘ordinarily resident’. Depending on the circumstances, the registration authority may consider it appropriate to register a homeless person at a...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: It was Monaghan.

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: I am not in a position to accept the amendment, not so much due to time pressure but for the reasons given by Senators Coffey and Humphreys. Phased decreases would certainly be illegal and would be challenged in the courts by any business.

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: Yes, phased decreases would be illegal. Senator Norris may have been slightly wrong. Decreases in rates are accepted and the revaluation process will produce decreases. One section in the Bill proposes that decreases would become instantly applicable and the rate book would change immediately. Senator Norris's concerns are already addressed in the Bill in that sense. If, for example, a...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: -----any proposal to phase in that decrease would certainly be challenged in the courts. The shopkeeper would ask why he or she is paying €7,000 one and half years after the new valuation had been set.

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: That is the point I am trying to make. I have no problem with what the amendment is trying to achieve, but the reality on the ground is that this is implemented wholesale across the country. I was in Donegal County Council with some of my officials last week or the previous week. The first thing I always raise when I visit a local authority is the rate of rates collection. The Donegal...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: I agree with Senator Murnane O'Connor, but Carlow County Council already has the freedom to do that. The situation varies from county to county on whether such a power is exercised by the members, through the management. All local authorities will work with ratepayers who are in distressed situations if the ratepayers engage with them to devise an appropriate payment plan. One of the...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: Yes. First, I am not sure in what context Senator Gavan is speaking but Irish Water do not pay rates yet. It is envisaged in the immediate term as part of the provisions of this Bill, particularly in respect of the changes to the existing section 56 of the rates legislation, that Irish Water will start to pay rates. That is one of the time sensitivities to this. Some local authorities...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: -----we would have seen over the years. I do not disagree with her at all but there is a twofold answer. First, and I accept it is not uniformly exercised across the country, the provision for councils to take account of difficulty to pay is exercised by many local authorities. I gave a particular example of work done in Donegal where, in the teeth of the recession, a conscious effort was...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: I did not say that.

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: No. The ultimate power is being given to the Minister. A similar provision was in existence until the 1980s, when it was last used. I am not sure when it was removed from legislation. The provision allowed the Minister a power of limitation on the setting of the ARV, which is the annual event that takes place at the budget meeting, as the Senator outlined. Essentially, however, the...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: No. What I am saying is that this provision is about the Minister having control over the range, generally speaking, of rate variation that a council may implement. It is not designed for a scenario in which the manager does not like what the councillors have done in a budget and can therefore overrule the budget they have passed. It is about placing on a statutory footing a limitation to...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: It is not. What the Senator outlined was essentially that if the management of the council did not like the budget that was passed, it could write to the Minister to seek to have it overturned. That is not what this provision will enable the Minister to do. It concerns merely the annual rate struck by the local authority. It ensures that local authorities do not pass on their entire net...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: I agree wholeheartedly with Senators Mulherin and Murnane O'Connor about the small shops. One of the centrepieces in this Bill is the alleviation scheme that is provided for under section 15. I spoke to the officials, when we were drafting this Bill originally, specifically with reference to rural towns and villages where the main street has suffered. There is now online shopping and...

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: It will. At present, out-of-town shops that have been built, whether some of the German multiples or others, can detract from the town centres. If the local area plan has a particular segment of the town of Kilkenny, the city of Kilkenny-----

Seanad: Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (10 Jul 2019)

John Paul Phelan: -----where it wants to see targeted development, the councillors will be able to say there will be a reduced rate in that part of the town because there might be a lot of dereliction on that street or in that quarter. That freedom is in the section. On Senator Paddy Burke's point about linking it to something, the issue is that there is such a variation. Over 50% of the income of Dublin...

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