Saturday 18 November 2017

Pay-off packages for councillors will soften blow of losing seats

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

HUNDREDS of councillors will receive 'parachute payments' to soften the blow of losing their seats when town councils are abolished in 2014.

Any councillor with more than three years' service is entitled to a pay-off -- called a 'retirement gratuity' -- when they retire or lose their seat.

This means that the State will be hit with a multi-million euro bill to pay off the 700 councillors who are expected to go under sweeping reforms of the local government system.

The payments will range from a minimum of €2,800 for a councillor with five years' service on a town council, to a maximum of €64,300 for one with 40 years' service on a city or county council and a town council.

Using a mid-point of €30,000 per councillor, it means the taxpayer could be hit with a bill of some €20m to pay off the local politicians when the number of councils is reduced from 114 to 31 in two years' time.

But the costs have not been quantified, with the 'Putting People First' document setting out reforms of local government only saying that they should be "quickly recovered" through savings.

The reform of local government also says annual salaries and expenses payments to councillors will be reduced in time for the 2014 local elections.

This comes after the Irish Independent revealed last month that the country's 883 city and county councillors benefited from a €28m payments' windfall last year, with part-time politicians paid an average of €31,600 each in salary, allowances, expenses and fees for sitting on a range of public bodies.

Under the new system, the amount which councillors can claim to attend conferences -- currently ranging between €1,000 and €4,700 a year per councillor -- will be reduced, but again no amount is given.

Other expenses to be examined include travel allowances, mobile-phone expenses, retirement gratuities, annual salaries (called a 'representational payment') and allowances paid to the cathaoirleach (chairman).

A plebiscite will be held on 2014 in which the electorate will vote on whether there should be a directly elected mayor of Dublin.

Irish Independent

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