The Minister for Environment and Local Government, John Gormley (Green Party) has instructed Local Councils to give the entire saving on the staff pension levy back to his Department even though the Council funds and pays its staff pensions. This is robbery as staff wages are partly paid from Business Rates and Water Charges as well as the Government Grant. The savings from the wages sacrifice of the staff and Councillors should go to reduce Rates on hard-pressed businesses. This emerged at Mondays meeting of Wicklow County Council when I asked the Manager for information about what happened the saving.
The Minister is going to increase rates when Council’s want to reduce them as this effectively transfers a portion of Rates income to Central government.
In Wicklow the pension levy will raise about €4M a year and would have allowed a 25% rates reduction if the Minister had not grabbed the cash. Commercial Rates fund about 40% of Wicklow County Councils wages bill and the savings even on that part are to be paid back to Central Government. We must reduce business charges in this competitive era and I am disgusted that this move could lead to a rates increase next year. The Minister claims that he is friendly to business while taking this money back from the Council Budget and thus ratepayers.