Flowers and shop front grants will bite the dust as Louth county councillors look for savings after they decided to cut the property tax in the county by 1.5 per cent.
At a fourth and final meeting and just five hours before the legal deadline the council finally agreed on the cut which will result in a saving of about 2 on the average house.
A proposal was put forward by Fianna Fail councillor Declan Breathnach for 7.5 per cent cut, but an amendment by Drogheda Fine Gael councillor Kevin Callan for a 1.5 per cent reduction was carried.
The amendment vote resulted in a 13-13 tie and the chairman Oliver Tully, Fine Gael, gave his casting vote in favour of the 1.5 cut.
Cllrs Bell, Butler, Callan, Culhane, Dearey, Doyle, Markey, McGahon, Minogue, Smith, Tenanty, Tully and Yore voted in favour.
Cllr Breathnach, Byrne, Corrigan, Flood, Godfrey, Keelan, Loughran, Cunningham, McGeough, Minogue, Meenan, Reilly, and Sharkey against.
The chairman’s casting vote decided the issue.
An earlier amendment by Sinn Fein’s Imelda Munster for a full 15 per cent reduction was defeated by 14 votes to 12 with no abstentions. Three councillors were absent from the meeting.
And a proposal by Cllr Mark Dearey for no change to the property tax was also defeated as well as a vote for a two per cent cut.
The council had been told by the chief executive Joan Martin that the council could not reduce the property tax by 7.5 per cent over a two-year period - one of the original ideas put forward - but a reduction of two per cent, giving a savings of around €200,000 could be made without affecting essential services.
The council’s shop front grant and the rates reduction scheme for new businesses set up in vacant premises, could be reduced, as well as expenditure or shrubs and flowers.
In the end the council opted for this soft target reduction and the 1.5 per cent decrease in the property tax.
Sinn Fein wanted the full 15 per cent reduction - the maximum the council could implement - but this was rejected. Fine Gael’s John McGahon called that proposal “reckless”. Cllr Sharkey, Sinn Fein, said the people had voted in the local election for the 15 per cent cut. Cllr Declan Breathnach, Fianna fail, said there was “an obligation on us to do what we said we would do in the local elections”.