With claims of raw sewage ‘bubbling up’ in some estates Deputy Charlie McConalogue has called on the government to explain how 62 estates in Donegal, considered ghost estates or unfinished a year ago, are now liable for the new property tax.
Deputy McConalogue said people were entitled to an explanation from the government, adding that a legal challenge might be the only way to get answers.
Speaking yesterday he said:“It was only right that all of these unfinished estates in Donegal were exempt from the household charge last year.
“Many of the residents are young families who paid way over the odds for what is now a seriously devalued home.
“They are deep in negative equity, struggling to pay their mortgages and living in unfinished surroundings with no end in sight. And now Fine Gael and Labour plan to hit them with new taxes on their homes.
“The Government has tried to justify this by claiming that many of these unfinished estates have miraculously been completed and fixed over the past year.
“This will come as a surprise to the people living in them – ordinary families who were abandoned by developers and are stuck without the amenities and services they paid for.
“By very virtue of the fact that these estates are unfinished, the residents are victims of the property and banking collapse. They do not need to be punished more for this. These people have a right to an explanation.”
“I think someone is going to have to take a legal challenge on this.”
The Fianna Fail representative went on; “By publishing these lists, the government has now set itself up as the judge and jury of deciding what estates are safe, instead of the local authorities.
“And they’re not giving local authorities the resources to sort these problems out. So, what if something were to happen to someone? Who would be liable?”
Eunan Quinn, Senior Planner, Donegal County Council, said the difference in the two lists was down to a number of factors. He added: “A lot of the units originally listed as exempt for the household charge were unoccupied and would never have been liable in any case. That is why they are not on the property tax exemption list.”
Mr Quinn acknowledge the problems that exist in ‘legacy’ estates, were most of an estate was finished and houses sold but parts of infrastructure, such as lighting, roads, footpaths, open area and sewerage, were not completed to standard.
“These are private estates and the council cannot take them over until they are of a certain standard. We don’t have the funds and it would also impose an unfair burden on the taxpayers.
“We understand people’s frustrations. The only way these problems will be solved is by everyone working together and doing their part.
“In many cases, we are working very closely with residents, developers and banks to sort out the problems.”