Friday, 16 July 2021
Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2021: Second Stage
Seán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
The Senator can come back to that on Committee Stage. We are advised that, under GDPR, to have such a wide-ranging collection of information without good reason could see us run into difficulties and jeopardise the information we can collect. The information we can collect will be helpful, and there is a GDPR issue as to why we cannot get more information on the property owners.
Senator Carrigy from Longford mentioned the issue of the spending on local authorities and said some local authorities are losing out. He said one third of people will pay less and the majority of people will not see an increase at all. He mentioned the question of how the allocation of the local property tax is spent. Again, that is a matter for local authorities and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. He raised the very interesting point that in Longford it was decided to use the extra money from the local property tax to help co-fund other projects on a county-by-county basis. Some people hand the money over and let the executive come forward with proposals as to how it is to be spent. I know another local authority where the entire increase in the local property fund through the annual adjustment is given over to the local councillors' discretionary fund in order that the local councillor, if he or she wants flashing lights for speed limits or footpaths in a town or village, has the authority to use that fund for that purpose. There are a great variety of ways in which this extra amount of funding can be utilised at local level. That is the essence of local government.
Senator Ward said this is a blunt instrument. He comes from an area that has the highest house values. Generally, the Government tends to fund about one third of all local government activities each year from the central fund. Approximately one third comes from commercial rates and approximately one third comes from other resources or funds such as parking charges plus central government capital funding for major projects the Government is funding, so there are quite a variety of streams.
I thank all the Senators for their contributions. I reiterate that most of what was said is for discussion at a housing committee meeting or a local government committee meeting, but it was very welcome to hear the views expressed and the general support for the legislation. We will now move on to the detail on Committee Stage.