Friday 20 September 2019

Councillors cost €760,000 in 2014

Cllr Malcolm Byrne. Total: €41,628.29
Cllr Malcolm Byrne. Total: €41,628.29
Cllr Larry O'Brien. Total: €31,194.24
Cllr Robert Ireton. Total: €30,809.71

By Fintan Lambe

IT'S the annual list that gets everyone's backs up. Wexford County Council has released details of expenses paid to members in 2014. The list shows the County Councillors cost us just under €760,000 last year.

Joe and Josephine Public generally see red when they read what their local Councillors cost each year; and the Councillors get vexed because they say the figures don't represent how much money they got, as the figures include the gross figure for representational payments, or their 'annual salary' payments, which are subject to PAYE, PRSI, and other deductions.

They also point out that the total amounts, in some cases, also include conference fees which are paid directly to conference organisers, and not to members.

The payments for 2014 are broken into two separate lists. The first list covers the first five months up to the end of May, and relates to the 21 County Councillors who served up to the local elections.

The second list gives details of payments to or on behalf of the 34 County Councillors since their election. Membership of the County Council expanded following the abolition of Wexford Borough Council, and Enniscorthy, Gorey, and New Ross Town Councils.

A few points to consider:

1, Each of the Councillors receives a representational payment, or salary of around €16,500 a year, which is subject to the usual tax deductions. In most cases, they also have another source of income, so the tax deductions vary.

2, In the first five months, these representational payments amounted to just over €7,000 each, or €1,400 a month, before tax. In the following seven months, these were around €9,500 each, or around €1,360 a month, before tax. This means, the Councillors' basic 'wages' have been cut by around €10 a week.

3, On top of the representational payments, they also get expenses, and payments for costs incurred at conferences at home and abroad. After the election, there were also expenses available for training.

4, The Chairperson of the County Council gets an additional payment. That's why Ted Howlin topped the first list. The Chairman's payment of €15,382.86 brought his €13,418 figure up to €28,800.36. It also meant Malcolm Byrne topped the second list. His Chairman's payment of €16,813.18 for seven months, brought his €14,236.61 figure up to €31,049.79.

5, The Vice Chairperson also gets an additional payment. Robert Ireton was Vice Chair from January to May, so a payment of €5,189.73 applied, bringing his total up from €11,050.92 to €16,240.65. The payments to the Vice Chairperson are smaller in the new Council. A payment of €3,362.61 applied for current Vice Chair Oliver Walsh, bringing his total up from €12,607.12 to €15,969.73.

6, The Chairperson of a Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) gets a payment of €3,000. On List 1, this applied to George Lawlor; John Hegarty; Larry O'Brien; Martin Murphy; and Pat Codd. On List 2, this applied to Fergie Kehoe; Jim Moore; Larry O'Brien; and Michael Sheehan.

7, Conference fees paid to the conference organisers amounted to €3,458 on List 1 and €1,370 on List 2.

8, Members received expenses worth €23,169.86 for attending conferences at home; and €5,144.24 for conferences abroad. The highest payments for costs associated with attending conferences at home were: €2,976.12 to Padge Reck; €2,451.50 to Michael Kinsella; and €1,520.27 to Pat Codd. The highest payments for conferences abroad were: Ted Howlin, €2,303.67; and George Lawlor €1,933.53.

9, Sixteen Councillors undertook training after the election. The highest payments made for this were: €1,408.09 to James Browne; €847.06 to Joe Sullivan; and €665.40 to Davy Hynes.

10, Members' expenses claimed ranged from around €2,600 up to around €4,000 per list. On List 1, the three highest figures were to Councillors in North Wexford: €4,042.60 to Robert Ireton; €4,015.67 to John Hegarty; and €4,008.83 to Michael Kinsella. On List 2, those with furthest to travel topped the expenses list: Joe Sullivan, €4,041.57; Anthony Donohoe, John Hegarty, and Malcolm Byrne on €3,988.50; Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, €3,882.36; and Robert Ireton €3,881.88.

11, The 21 members of Wexford County Council cost us at total of €55,023.10 a month in the first five months of the year, or €2,620.14 a month each.

12, The 34 members cost us a total of €69,164.87 a month for the final seven months of the year, or €2,034.26 a month each. Therefore each Councillor is costing us €585.88 less each month.

Wexford People

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