Paid to turn up
• Local authorities are proposing, amongst other things, to turn off lights and to close parks to help make up for the shortfall in household charge payments. As the relevant staff have to be paid anyway under the Croke Park agreement, it's hard to see how savings will be made.
Given that the local authorities must know this, why are they not looking at areas where costs can undoubtedly be cut?
Why don't they look at the mini-gravy train rode by councillors -- I use the word 'mini' as their package is not yet in the same league as their colleagues in the Dail.
Councillors receive a salary (taxed); turning-up money (not taxed) and usually termed 'meeting expenses'; allowances for chairing committees (untaxed in general); telephone allowances; training costs (in a limited number of cases); and expenses for attending conferences and seminars.
Dublin City Council's website details the payments to each councillor. In 2011 the cost of all the above was well over €1,000,000 with the turning-up money element more than €300,000.
I support the payment of a salary to councillors but they can't have it both ways. Employees pay their own travel costs to work -- in this case the costs are travelling to City Hall for meetings. Good attendance at meetings means an annual tax-free payment of close to €8,000.
Interestingly, some councillors claimed nothing or very little for telephone expenses. However, others received over €1,000 in 2011. Given that you can get packages to cover all calls made, how could these councillors possibly incur such costs?
Conferences and seminars cost over €65,000 in 2011 and a detailed list is available on the internet.
I suspect we will see more irrelevant proposals to save money with no action on the above.
I hope I am wrong.
Ranelagh, Dublin 6