DESPITE warnings about the precarious state of the council's finances, and a call for members to agree to cut their expenses, councillors at Kerry County Council have voted to give themselves an €878,000 package of pay, expenses and allowances in 2013.
This includes €452,000 in pay, €45,000 in allowances for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, €178,000 in allowances for attending council meetings, €108,000 in expenses for attending conferences, €63,000 for other miscellaneous expenses, €25,000 for retirement gratuities and €7,000 for attending conferences abroad.
Councillors voted in favour of the pay and expenses package despite a call from Cllr Toireasa Ferris (SF) for members to show solidarity with the recession hit public and agree to cut the expenses they receive for attending conferences.
Cllr Ferris ( pictured ) said the expenses package, which was included in the budget document under the heading of Civic Leadership, was outdated and out of touch with reality.
"I'd like to proposes a reduction in conference expenses. Awarding ourselves €700 extra each the as part of an €878,000 package is not showing civic leadership," said Cllr Ferris.
"This conference payment was introduced at a time when councillors were not paid for their work. I'd like to refer to the title of the section and ask councillors to show some civic leadership by agreeing to a minimal cut and at least reducing the conference payments by half," said Cllr Ferris.
Cllr Ferris' call was ignored by the other members who voted in favour of the budget, and the pay and expenses package, by a margin of 19 to one, with seven councillors absent and only Cllr Ferris voting against the proposed budget.
While €878,000 may not seem like much in the context of a budget of over €117 million the pay and expenses package agreed by councillors is more than the council's combined 2013 budget for road safety works and promotion, street cleaning, traffic management improvement, the economic development and promotion of Kerry, waste management planning and coastal protection works.
It is also €108,000 more than the council has budgeted for the maintenance and improvement of Kerry's entire 95 kilometre network of primary roads.