The claim that Dublin City Council would lose €2 billion in the transfer of its assets next month to Irish Water was described by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as "an unbalanced presentation''.
He said the legislation provided for the transfer of water services assets to Irish Water and all of the liabilities associated with them, including loans. He added that a total of €730 million in gross water costs would transfer to Irish Water from next year, while €244 million would be paid back to local authorities for the provision of water services under the terms of the service level agreement.
"Irish Water expects to pay commercial rates of approximately €42 million to local authorities on the water infrastructure assets that transfer to them from next January,'' Mr Kenny added. "The remaining €444 million of water-related costs, which local authorities would otherwise have to meet from their own resources, will be funded centrally by Irish Water.''
The Taoiseach was responding in the Dá
il to the claim by Dublin city manager Owen Keegan that the council would lose some €2 billion in assets and face pension liabilities for water services staff of €330 million. Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the city manager had been clear on what would happen.
“It will mean higher water charges for the city’s businesses, damage to the council’s ability to respond to severe weather events and huge financial and operational risks to the largest local authority in the State,’’ Ms McDonald added.
Mr Kenny said local authorities operated a public sector defined-benefit pay-as-you-go pension scheme. He said the legislation provided that Irish Water would pay local authorities for existing water services pensioners and there would be a mechanism for payment of pensions benefits to staff who transferred to Irish Water.
Ms McDonald said it was extremely worrying that the council had not seen sight of the service level agreement and was reflective of the very rushed approach by the Government on the matter.
Mr Kenny said there must be a reliable supply of treated water that was cost-effective and did not have the taxpayer paying very substantial amounts of money for water that could be lost through inferior pipes.
That was one of the real tasks to be carried out in Irish Water’s major projects, Mr Kenny added. “The standard must be raised so that the network is fit for purpose for 2014 and beyond,’’ he said.