LIMERICK City and County Council has declined to comment on a claim that a key saving commitment at the time of the merger will not be delivered upon.
When details of the merger of Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council first emerged, it was claimed that this could bring about more than €20m in savings.
The figure was seized upon by many bodies, including the Limerick Chamber, who said it represented “20 million reasons to join the two councils up”.
This figure was later reduced to €15m. And at a meeting of city councillors last week to discuss the ongoing merger – which is set to be finalised come the May local elections – it was claimed that city manager Conn Murray told councillors that the savings had already been achieved under the previous Limerick City Council, which ran between 2004 and 2009.
Independent councillor John Gilligan, who asked the question, said the episode has been an “embarrassment to everybody”.
“We had a meeting with the manager on Tuesday where we were speaking about what is happening regarding the change management. I asked about the figure of €15m, saying surely we will have €15m to spend,” Cllr Gilligan recalled.
But, he said the manager then said: “Councillors, you have already saved that.”
“We were told in the five years previous [to the amalgamation being announced], we cut back on a lot of things in City Council, reducing the rate. We were told this is what the saving of the €15m was,” Cllr Gilligan said.
He feels the City Council is being penalised by amalgamating with the County Council.
“There is no financial gain for us coming together. This does not make sense. We were told that by amalgamating, we were going to save this money.” He claims it was a case of “look at how much money we have saved – so now we are going to amalgamate you”.
In a statement released in response to a question directed to manager Mr Murray, Limerick City and County Council said: “The matter being referred to by Cllr Gilligan was discussed at a private meeting this week. The manager will be remarking on this and other issues at a statutory meeting of Limerick City Council next Monday.
“It would be inappropriate for the manager to comment further on this issue ahead of discussing same with councillors at this meeting.”