Annual Chairman's allowance is reduced from €30k to €10k
THE annual allowance paid to the Chairman of Wicklow County Council has been reduced to €30,000, down €10,000 from last year.
The Leas Cathaoirleach will receive €6,000, as will the Chairs of the five Special Policy Committees (SPCs).
Cllr. Shay Cullen proposed that the council should agree upon the recommendation made by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.
However, Cllr. John Brady put forward a counter-proposal calling for a reduction of 15 per cent in all annual allowances to run alongside a property tax reduction of 15 per cent.
Cllr. Pat Vance felt the council should accept the Department recommendations of €30,000 for the Cathaoirleach and €6,000 for the Leas Cathaoirleach and the five SPC Chairpersons.
'These are the recommendations. Cllr. Brady is the Chair of the Bray Municipal District but there was no proposal at that last meeting to cut property tax and the chairs allowance.'
Cllr. Brady insisted that 50 per cent of his annual allowance was going 'directly back into the local community.'
Cllr. Tommy Cullen said that once income tax was taken into consideration, the actual take-home allowance for the Cathaoirleach was much lower than €30,000.
'The real allowance is around €13,000 a year after paying 52 per cent income tax. I don't think that's a huge amount considering the amount of work and travel involved.'
Cllr. Joe Behan described the role of chairman as a 'privilege' that, from his experience as a former Cathaoirleach, equates to a full-time job.
'There are a lot of expenses involved. You have to take time off work or get someone to replace you. You will spend a hell of a lot more than €30,000 over the year.'
He also lashed out at Sinn Fein, commenting, 'Sinn Fein are making a very big mistake because you are saying that by reducing the property tax by 15 per cent next year you are going to have to cut services by 15 per cent.'
Cllr. Brady refuted any allegation that Sinn Fein supported cutting services.
'I was talking about 15 per cent reduction to all Chairs. I never once mentioned front-line services. I know work as the Cathaoirleach is very time consuming but we are talking about €30,000 on top of a representational allowance, that's in excess of €55,000. There are many working families who have had their wages cut and would regard that as a high salary.'
The councillors voted on Cllr. Shay Cullen's proposal to accept the Department recommendations, with 23 voting in favour, seven against, one abstaining and one not present.