FG says mayor for Dublin area will cost €8m a year

 

FINE GAEL has released a county council document which calculates that setting up the office of a mayor for the Greater Dublin Area will cost the taxpayer €8 million a year.

However, a spokesman for Minister for the Environment John Gormley said it was simply “untrue” to suggest the mayoralty would lead to additional costs.

Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan yesterday pointed to documents released by Fingal County Council which forecast that the Dublin major project would cost €10 million in the first year and €8 million a year after that.

“John Gormley’s obsession with the Dublin mayoralty is just like Bertie Ahern’s obsession with the ‘Bertie Bowl.’ Both projects bear striking similarities: there is a dearth of planning behind them, taxpayers’ concerns are ignored and the bill will be huge. The Fingal documents regarding the mayor have exposed the true story with Gormley’s plan,” said Mr Hogan.

He pointed to the claim by Fingal County Council that a minimum staffing level of 35 to 40 people would be required in the mayor’s office.

“Dublin taxpayers will be most concerned by the fact that, according to Fingal County Council, as it stands there is no provision to pay for the mayor unless taxes are increased,” added Mr Hogan.

He cited the opinion of the council. “There is no provision in Fingal’s budget for the new office, and the desire not to increase the financial burden on commercial ratepayers in 2011 will not be achievable if the Bill as currently framed is proceeded with.”

Mr Hogan said the message was clear. Tax rises for Dublin ratepayers would be necessary to pay for the Dublin mayor plan.

“John Gormley has obviously rushed through this plan without thinking. I want to make it clear, Fine Gael is in favour of a Dublin mayor but the Minister’s plan is costly and does nothing but add another new layer of bureaucracy or political fiefdoms to the landscape in Dublin.”

A spokesman for the Minister denied Mr Hogan’s claim, saying it was simply “untrue” to suggest that the mayoralty would lead to extra costs.

“This office will be met from existing staff structures and existing resources. There are no additional financial implications, and it is wrong to suggest there are.”

The spokesman pointed to the recent report of the local government efficiency review group which found that significant savings could be made in the cost of running local government through staffing and structural rationalisation.

“A leaner and more efficient local government structure is the objective. The mayor’s office will actually reduce costs because it will cut down on duplication and will lead to more efficient and accountable local government,” he added.

In its report on the position Fingal County Council said the creation of the Dublin mayor would have important consequences “for elected representatives to local authorities, the citizens of the Dublin region and the ratepayers of the Dublin region whose rate demands will have to increase if the proposals as framed are proceeded with”.

Legislation on the creation of the Dublin mayoralty is expected to be published before the Dáil resumes at the end of this month.

The Fingal document is available at www.finegael.ie/ upload/ Item29DublinMayoral RegionalProposals.pdf