FINGAL County Council is still counting the cost of outstanding domestic water charges, which date back 16 years and stand at €3 million.
Northside People can reveal that 12,800 houses in the Fingal catchment area have yet to pay the controversial charge that was introduced in 1994.
It means that not only do council officials now have to collect outstanding household charges but they are also still trying to collect the domestic water charge that was imposed in Dublin for two years in the 1990s. Property owners in Dublin were liable for the unpopular water fee, which was approximately IR£85 or €105 per household from 1994 to 1996. Like the household charge, the water fee sparked a mass movement of resistance and ultimately people power successfully forced its abolition.
However, contrary to what some householders may think, scrapping of the scheme did not mean an automatic quashing of outstanding fees.
According to a spokesperson for Fingal County Council, the outstanding water charges will still be recouped one way or another.
“Over €8.8 million was collected in respect of this charge,” the spokesperson told Northside People.
“There are approximately 12,800 households that still have either part of the charge or the full charge outstanding on their accounts.
“The total amount outstanding is in the order of €2.8 million.
“As indicated previously, despite the time lapse, the council continues to collect these charges when the opportunity arises, particularly in the context of the conveyancing process in the sale/disposal of properties.”
Local councillor Kieran Dennison (FG), who sought the information from the council, said he was surprised that the vast majority of the 90,000 homes in Fingal had paid the fee despite the controversy surrounding the charge.
“All public representatives including those who would have been vehemently opposed to the water charge still paid it as they wouldn’t have been allowed to be re-elected to the council if it was outstanding,” he explained.
“I think the problem with the water charge was that there were no penalties or interest accrued on accounts that were outstanding.
“That was one of the things that made the Non Principal Primary Residence charge so successful because there were penalties and late penalties of around €20 a month which was enough of an incentive to get people paying promptly.”
Cllr Dennison said the weakness in the household charge is that in six months, outstanding accounts will only be charged an extra €10 on top of the €100 charge.
“People are naturally making the commercial decision to wait and see, and in worst case scenario they’ll have to pay €10 extra in six months’ time,” he added.