27 July 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Patsy McArdle

A GROWING wave of public anger is mounting in Co Monaghan – and in several other areas – over huge cutbacks in local government funding to local authorities for public services as a “penalty” for resistance to the Household Charge!
THE issue has led to an emergency special meeting of Monaghan Co Council this Thursday afternoon in advance of the adoption of budgetary proposals by the Council for the maintenance of services throughout the county for the coming year.
Earlier this week the former Co Monaghan Mayor, Fianna Fail councillor Seamus Coyle, publicly accused the Minister for the Environment Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD of “punishing local authorities for his own mismanagement”.
And yesterday, Wednesday, South Monaghan Sinn Féin councillor Matt Carthy described the Minister’s decision to withhold millions of euros from local councils as nothing short of “bully- boy tactics”!
Colr Carthy claimed the Fine Gael-led government’s decision to impose more cuts on local government will have a “disastrous impact on the provision of services for hundreds of thousands of families.
”The local government funding to Monaghan Co Council has been cut by €1.36 million – as a result of the low collection rate of the Household Charge in the county, which was stated to be equivalent to a 54 per cent collection.
Colr Coyle said the upkeep of local roads in the county was likely to be one of the main areas to face a severe cash cut.
He said the action taken by Minister Hogan was “unacceptable and totally wrong”.
It emerged this week that a second round of reminder letters is to be sent out in the coming weeks to house owners in the country who have not yet paid the household charge.
It is reckoned that around 1.6 million households are eligible for the €100 charge – but some 600,000 homes have yet to register for payment.
The Government has said the charge will be replaced by a property tax next year.
Colr Carthy remarked that the latest cutback in funding to Co Monaghan was on top of a cut of over €850,000 in the Local Government Fund allocation at the beginning of the year.
“This means”, Cllr. Carthy said, “that even though €1.2 million has been paid by Monaghan house-owners, who did pay the household charge, the Government has cut funding to our county by over €2.2million. When those who did pay the charge are taken into account, it means that the government has invested a full €3.41million less in local government funding to Monaghan in 2012, compared to last year.
“That is before we even consider the reduced funding in roads, housing, and other specific budgets which have also been dramatically slashed by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments over recent years.”
And the Sinn Féin councillor explained that the Government cutback was nastier than most people at first feared.
He said: “€1.2million has been collected from people in Co Monaghan who have paid the charge and the Government claim that this equates to 54% of liable households. How then can they claim that there is a penalty of €1.36 million because the other 46% of households did not pay – their maths don’t add up?.
“The introduction of the Household Charge was a bad idea – it was ill-conceived, badly implemented and has no public support. The whole issue has been mishandled from the start.
“Now the Government are telling those people who did pay the charge that they are actually going to receive €2.2million in reduced …

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