Former councillors to receive €3.5m from 10 local authorities

Former city, county, borough and town councillors severance to reach estimated €20.7m

New cathaoirleach Cllr Kevin Sheahan is congratulated by Limerick City and County Council councillors. The recently amalgamated council will pay €565,000 in gross payments to former members. Photograph: Don Moloney/Press 22

New cathaoirleach Cllr Kevin Sheahan is congratulated by Limerick City and County Council councillors. The recently amalgamated council will pay €565,000 in gross payments to former members. Photograph: Don Moloney/Press 22

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 07:21

Ten local authorities will make payments totalling almost €3.7 million to former members of city, county, borough and town councils who retired or lost their seats in the local elections or as a result of the abolition of town councils.

This figure excludes payments due to former councillors who have not yet reached the age of 50 who will receive payments on reaching that age.

Ten councils making severance payments

The recently amalgamated Limerick City and County Council will pay €565,000 in gross payments to former city and county council members.

Almost €300,000 will be shared among seven outgoing city councillors while eight former county councillors will receive €265,000 between them. These figures exclude payments to four former councillors which have not yet been calculated. A further five members’ payments have been preserved until they turn 50 and are not included in the figures.

Wexford County Council will pay almost €520,000 in gross payments to 20 former members of the local authority as well as outgoing members of Wexford Borough Council and the town councils of Enniscorthy, Gorey and New Ross. Just over €285,000 of this will be shared between six outgoing members of Wexford County Council. The figures also do not include payments due to six former members of the county, borough and town councils whose gratuities are preserved until they turn 50.

Longford County Council will make €440,000 in payments to 11 former county councillors, six of whom lost their seats in the recent local elections and a further five council members who retired ahead of the elections held in May.

Pay rate

A further four town councillors are in line to receive €26,607 between them based on current salaries. However, these amounts will have to be recalculated on the pay rate in place at the time each councillor reaches the age of 50.

The local authority will pay a further €41,733 to five “retirees” from Granard Town Council and just over €10,000 to two outgoing members of Longford Town Council bringing its total expenditure on gratuities to almost €492,000.

Galway County Council will pay almost €420,000 to 26 former county and town councillors, the majority of which (almost €268,000) will be paid to eight former members of the county council. A further 18 members of Ballinasloe, Tuam and Loughrea town councils will share in over €150,000 in payments. Three of the 18 also served for a time on Galway County Council and will receive severance payments in relation to both terms of service.

Meath County Council will pay almost €400,000 in gratuities to 18 former county and town council members. However, this figure excludes payments due to 10 councillors whose payments are preserved until they reach 50 which will cost a further €130,000 based on today’s pay rates.

Social charge

Gross gratuities are subject to tax under the Tax Consolidation Act 1997 and to the universal social charge.

Following the local elections in May, The Irish Times contacted all city and county councils to ask them for a full list of payments made to outgoing councillors. However, a number of councils said they had not yet finalised figures when contacted.

As well as paying gratuities to outgoing city and county councillors, local authorities’ gratuities relating to town and borough councils are also being met from the city/county council budgets.

The Department of the Environment estimates that overall gratuities following the recent local elections will amount to about €20.7 million of which €16.1 million would be the usual turnover following a local election while a further €4.6 million relates to the abolition of town councils.

However, a spokesman for the department said the overall level of estimated payments should be viewed in the context of the local government reform package which will lead to significant savings into the future.