Councillor Pio Smith.
Councillor Pio Smith, whose motion to raise the Local Property Tax (LPT) by 10% was defeated this morning, has shared his reactions with Drogheda Life and given details of how Drogheda has missed out on so many positive outcomes.
"Louth County Council are practically broke” he said. “It might be hard for people to believe but that's the case.
“The Government are refusing to provide any more money to the council despite the fact that we now have to pay off capital and interest on land loans that were taken out on the instruction of government during the boom years.
“My proposal was to increase the property tax by 10%, which would provide an extra million euro per year which would be divided up in the following way:
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“€450,000 to be allocated to social housing and voids and the remainder €550,000 would be divided proportionally between the Municipal Districts of Drogheda, Dundalk and Ardee, eg Drogheda would receive €200,000 each year for the next five years.
“The money raised could be leveraged, so for every €100,000 the council allocated to social housing and voids the government would grant 400,000 back to Louth, so a net spend of €500,000.
“It costs on average €30,000 to bring a void house up to the standard required for occupation so a lot of houses could be opened up as well as more house repairs being carried out.
The seven councillors in favour of increasing the LPT were Paul Bell (Lab.), Emma Coffey (FF), Michelle Hall (Lab), Conor Keelan (FF), Pio Smith (Lab) and John Sheridan (FF).
“Drogheda would receive €200,000 per year to be spent directly in the town. We could leverage this funding with Louth Leader Partnership and other state bodies.
“For example, if we allocated €50,000 toward Laurence Gate/Town Walls/St Mary's Abbey we could have availed of grant aid from the Heritage Council of approximately €200,000, so in theory we could have spent €250,000 on these important monuments for an outlay of €50,000.
“Money could have been allocated to provide a playground on the North side of Drogheda. For example, a €25,000 outlay could have attracted an additional funding of approximately €75,000 from Louth Leader Partnership, so a total spend of €100,000.
€The same could be done for cycle lanes, walking trails and tourism. For example, Sligo Town Council and the Leader organisation produce a Sligo town brochure that is used to market the town in Germany and Holland. We need to be doing the same for Drogheda.
“I know it isn't popular to increase the property tax, people are still struggling to get by, however we are getting no extra money from the Government.
“Under the proposal a property tax of €90 would increase to €99, an overall increase of €9 in the year. Also, a property tax of €225 would increase by €20 in the year to €245.
“If we want to make Drogheda a better place then the only people we can depend on to provide the funding is ourselves. The BIDS Scheme is looking to raise a six figure sum from business people to invest in Drogheda and this coupled with the money from the property tax would make a significant difference to the town over a five year period.”