Speaking after the meeting which was heldCouncillor John Brady said "Unfortunately the government parties of Fine Gael and Labour united again on Wicklow County Council to ensure a grossly unfair budget was adopted. The Wicklow county council budget has been decimated over the last number of years by the Government and this year was no different. The Local Government Fund given to the council has been reduced from last years allocation of €14.4m to €3.44m. Scandalously in the region of €11m has been given to Irish Water from the property tax that the people of Wicklow paid. This funding will allow Irish Water take control of the water services that the council had operated and also start the roll out of Domestic water metering in 2014".
Cllr Brady continued "Unfortunately the people of Wicklow have been sold another pup on this issue by the Government. People had been told that 100% of the property tax raised would fund local services in their area, this quickly changed to 80%, now we find that only about 22% of the hard earned money, reluctantly and on a lot of occasions unwillingly taken to pay the Property Tax will go towards funding local services. The remainder goes to Irish Water to install water meters, so more stealth taxes can be squeezed from the ordinary people of Wicklow who don't have it to give. Figures given at the meeting show that if 100% of the property tax was collected and given to the council it would amount to €16.5m, however the council is getting a mere €3.44m the remainder goes to Irish Water. We all remember the false promises and the fancy booklets that were given outlining the better services that would be forthcoming if people paid this tax. Unfortunately what has materialised is exactly what Sinn Féin and i predicted as just another money grab."
Cllr Brady went on to say "The other main reason why my party colleague John Snell and I voted against the Council Budget is the plan to increase rents for all council tenants, this includes the the increase of the basic minimum rent for those with very low incomes. It is planned to increase all rents by 3%, there are plans to do the same again next year. Unfortunately many council tenants live in social housing that needs major refurbishment including better insulation, windows and doors and they also need a system that will address problems and faults that occur in those houses, forcing higher rents on them is totally unjust. Many council tenants are in social housing because of financial reasons and are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Only this week we seen figures that 14,000 Wicklow people are in food poverty, this will only serve to add more people to that list."
Cllr Brady concluded "Unfortunately the Government parties of Fine Gael and Labour joined forces at the council meeting to ensure the budget was passed by the narrowest of margins. This will ensure that the people of Wicklow get poorer services next year year whilst still paying the unfair and unjust Property Taxes. I am very confident however that these councillors in Fine Gael and Labour will be held to account for their actions in the Local Government Elections that take place in May 2014."