Sunday, 22nd October 2017
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Anger at 2.5% Local

Property Tax Rate Hike

Dear editor

People in Waterford have been voicing their anger over the council's decision to increase Local Property Tax by 2.5%. This amounts to an increase of 20 euro per month per household according to Council CEO Michael Walsh who had proposed an increase of 10%. (We assume this 20 euro is an average.)

In an interview with local radio Michael Walsh raised some interesting points. Local authorities have been subjected to cutbacks to their budgets over the last number of years which has seen councils come to rely on Local Property Tax as an important revenue stream for the provision of public services. This goes to the heart of competing ideologies. Centre-right governments will continue to cut budgets to public services in the belief that the private sector should take up the burden in order to drive competition and generate profits. The left believe it is the duty of the state to provide affordable public services paid for out of general taxation. We see this struggle being played out over water, health services, education, transport and housing.

Michael Walsh also stated that more powers should be given over to councils where decisions can be made more locally on how we prioritise the allocation of budget money. This, we believe, can only be a good thing for local democracy. However, lets look at some of the projects that have benefited from council funding and how are they delivering value to the community?

The Apple Market re-development cost over 5 million euro. Concerns, (which were flagged before the development), on the impact on the local area, are now being aired. It is also worth asking if solar paneling can be retro-fitted to the roof to provide a source of free energy back to the community but that is a question for another day.

60 million is required by the developers of the North Quays to deliver infrastructure to drive footfall to the North Quays.

All investment in Waterford is welcome, let's be clear about that. But let's have a debate abut priorities and value for money spent. The Apple Market and The North Quays will generate revenue for the council, but these are long term returns which require massive amounts of public money in the short term. We have a second cath lab operating from an articulated lorry. We have a national housing emergency. We need more schools, our water infrastructure needs updating. We are now being asked to find an extra 20 euro a month in order to keep public services going. We're not here to tell the people of Waterford nor the council for that matter, where public money should be spent. As Michael Walsh suggested, it is a matter of democratic debate involving the whole community. Let's channel our anger not at individuals or groups but at the system, the ideology, which compounds us to conclude that gains for the few is to the benefit of all.

Yours,

Paul Kirby, Secretary

Edwards - O'Connor Waterford Branch

Communist Party of Ireland

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