ACTING County Manager Joan Martin has warned that Louth Local Authorities will pursue anybody who owes them money and that means those who owe them rent, commercial rates or water charges.
“I’m working with management to see if there are better ways to collect money,” she told members of Dundalk Town Council.
“All 700 people employed by Louth Local Authorities have to be paid and at the moment there is a cash flow problem.
“There is a can’t pay element but there is also a won’t pay element.
“We will be leaving no stone unturned to get money.
“We will not be running at a deficit. We will be pursuing people. These are lawful debts and have to be paid.”
She said Louth Local Authorities struggled to get over the 65 per cent paid mark regarding the Household Charge in recent weeks and she is fully aware that Louth ranks higher than most counties when it comes to unemployment, but if the money is not collected there will be serious consequences for the budgets of the different councils.
Dundalk Town Council is currently owed over e500,000in rent. The minimum rent is e25 per week.
The number of tenants in arrears is 1,055.
Fifty to sixty per cent of people are in a payment plan.
There are approximately 1,500 local authority houses in the urban area.
Mr David Storey senior executive officer Dundalk Town Council said every tenant will be given an opportunity to pay their rent but the council must collect the revenue.
The council was also told that many housing applicants did not return the Assessment of Housing Needs forms sent to them.
Cllr Marianne Butler said some people had not kept the council up-to-date with their address.
It was pointed out that rent supplements, if applicable, would be updated whenever a problem with an address is carified.
People who failed to complete the assessment have risked losing their rent supplement payments.
In addition, anyone who did not complete the assessment and was removed from the housing list could lose the benefit of the time they’ve already spent on the list if they reapply later.
Cllr Jim Ryan, chairman of the council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee, said he knew of two men who had been on the housing list for four to five years, who are parents, but have now been told their needs will be re-assessed as they are living with parents.
He also asked if the new national rent scheme would impact on arrears.
David Storey said the national rent scheme is currently being drafted by the Department for the Environment and will be in place by next year.