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Monday 18 December 2017

Elected mayor to drive €40m cost cuts

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE NEW directly-elected Dublin mayor will push through major reductions in spending across the four local authorities in the capital.

The mayor will be responsible for implementing the recommendations of a new group set up to cut €40m in costs.

The proposed legislation establishing the new post is expected to be accepted by Cabinet either this week or next and will be published soon after.

Green Party leader John Gormley -- who is pushing the plan despite claims by Fianna Fail backbenchers that it is a waste of money -- hopes to have the first election in the spring.

Fianna Fail ministers Pat Carey and Noel Dempsey were briefing their backbenchers on the legislation last night.

The proposed legislation says the mayor will implement cuts identified by a new group set up to make savings across Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire councils.

It follows on from the 'An Bord Snip Eile' report, which identified cuts of over €500m that could be made by councils across the country, and said a dedicated group should be set up to look at Dublin councils.

That group's recommendations will be one of the first items in the mayor's in-tray. The new incumbent will implement the cuts, taking the issue out of the hands of the city and county managers.

An Bord Snip Eile said council staffing levels could be reduced by 15pc, although the Croke Park deals says no public sector workers can be sacked until 2014.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley said the savings will come by not replacing retired workers and by reallocating staff to more suitable positions.

The minister said earlier yesterday that the new mayor will bring the cost of local government down.

"The business community, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, they've called for this legislation for quite some time because every international study shows a strong region is driven by a strong city," Mr Gormley said.

The mayor will not have his own discretionary budget and will only be consulted on the spending plans of local authorities in the capital.

However, the managers of Fingal, Dublin City, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire councils will be legally bound to follow the plans laid down by the Dublin mayor in policy areas like transport, planning, waste and housing.

He will assume the title of Lord Mayor -- and take over the Mansion House -- from 2014. The mayors of the four councils will remain in place.

The mayor will also be the main driver of traffic-management plans -- which could include the introduction of congestion charges -- and transport plans for the capital and will link development and transport in the greater Dublin area.

Irish Independent

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