A FORMER Mayor of Limerick says the Government should scrap payments to councillors instead of imposing the household charge on families.
Tony Bromell, who was also involved in the campaign to establish the University of Limerick, was speaking after figures published during the week showed city councillors claimed almost €600,000 in salaries and related expenses in 2011.
Fianna Fail man Mr Bromell - who was elected mayor in 1983 - contends that if you took away the payments for the 1,000 councillors across Ireland, it could ease the burden on people asked to pay the €100 tax.
But councillors have rejected his remarks as “populist comments”, while Independent councillor John Gilligan sarcastically said Mr Bromell should become Finance Minister.
On average, city councillors claimed €34,885.
This comprises their annual salary of €17,000, fees for being chairman of special policy committees, and expenses for travelling to and from City Hall. There is an additional allowance for being mayor.
“There are about 1,000 city and county councillors in the country and they are all getting a payment of around €20,000. If you got rid of that you would save a lot of money,” Mr Bromell said. He also called for conference expenses to be fully investigated.
The figures released this week show that southside councillor Ger Fahy is the top claimant in the city at €52,100, with last year’s mayor Jim Long just behind him on €52,089.
However, Cllr Fahy says he does not believe this is correct. He said in 2011, he would have claimed travel and also been paid €12,000 for his role as chairman of the Mid-West Regional Authority.
“But €6,000 of that is taxed. I know expenses were on top of that. I had to attend ten meetings during my chairmanship. But there was also a meeting in Dublin which I got no expenses for. The wages for councillors in the city are around €17,500. At times the public assume all public representatives are on vast earnings,” he said.
For more, see the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated September 8, 2012