LOUTH County Council has made a big mistake in doing away with its rates collector, according to newly elected county councillor Jim Tenanty.
“The local man was easy to deal with it, but that has all now been taken away by the council,” Cllr Tenanty said. “And now they can’t get the money in.
He made the comments after the problem was raised at the July meeting of the county council.
At that meeting, Ms Joan Martin, the newly appointed chief executive of Louth County council, said the problem about trying to get money in fell into two categories, those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay.
She said the council will make an agreement with anybody who makes a reasonable offer. The council had tried to streamline debt collection over the three local authorities over the last 18 months.
With the amalgamation of the three authorities at the start of June, debt collection was centralised in the financial section, with the exception of housing.
She is hoping the situation will improve with the new centralised system, as well as the economy improving, and people being in a better position to pay.
Councillor Peter Savage didn’t see why councillors can’t be consulted where problems regarding payment arose.
They were consulted when it came to the courts.
He said that in relation to rates, voluntary organistions had to collect funds to provide aminities and were then faced with bills of €15,000 to €20,000, and this, he sazid, was totally unfair.
Earlier, Cllr Paul Bell had suggested involving the revenue commissioners in the collection of money due to the council.
He said the present system obviously didn’t work. The council have procedures that they follow and when they got to the steps of the court the defaulters write
He was not sure the council recovered money and with the costs involved at the end of the day it was a failure.
But Cllr Tenanty does not believe this is the right road to travel.
“Bringing in the revenue is like letting the dogs out,” he said. “they should bring back the local man who knows the people.
He was the yes and ears of the community.
“They should have come up with some better way business people can pay their rates. The local collector was the watchdog.
It made a lot more sense,” Cllr Tenanty said.