Top council earner to join Blaney back in FF ranks
THE highest paid councillor in Connacht and Ulster last year will soon be joining Fianna Fail.
The Irish Independent's investigation into councillors' pay shows Independent Fianna Fail's Dessie Larkin from Donegal received payments totalling ?61,138.
Mr Larkin is a member of the Blaney family organisation which is now rejoining Fianna Fail after a 35-year split.
The deal sees Independent FF TD Niall Blaney rejoining the party, along with Mr Larkin and fellow councillor Liam Blaney.
Based in Letterkenny, Mr Larkin was chairman of Donegal County Council from June so received an extra ?20,000 in allowances for this position.
In total he got ?53,127 from Donegal County Council. Fianna Fail's Patrick McGowan, who was chairman for the first half of the year, got ?61,056 from Donegal County Council.
But Mr Larkin also received another ?8,011 from his membership of the Border Regional Authority and BMW Regional Assembly, so this propelled him to the top of the table by just ?76.
In the final part of the series today, the payments to 223 councillors in the nine city and county councils in Connacht and Ulster are published. The study by this newspaper incorporated payments to councillors from 70 different public bodies.
It showed that councillors shared a cash windfall of ?26m in payments from the taxpayer last year, with the average payout nearly equal to a regular workers wages.
The study of wages, allowances and expenses for city and county councillors revealed average earnings of ?29,550 per councillor in 2005.
Contrary to suggestions on a number of local radio stations over recent days, councillors do not pay tax on all of their income. Only the basic salary of ?15,000 is subject to normal PAYE and PRSI. The allowance for mayors or chairpersons of councils is taxed on a modified level, in agreement with the Revenue Commissioners. Up to ?10,000 of this allowance is tax free, with tax deducted on the balance.
The annual allowance to cover the cost of attending meetings associated with council business as well as postage and telephone bills is tax free.
The ?5,080 paid to the chairpersons of Strategic Policy Committees is tax free. The expenses paid to councillors for travel and subsistence for attendance at conferences, training courses, meetings, delegations and foreign travel is tax free.
Some councillors don't go to any conferences but others go to over 10 per year, chalking up thousands of euros of mileage expenses.