Payouts of up to €16k as town councils axed
on 18/10/2013 00:00:00
He and officials yesterday launched the Local Government Bill, which will see radical reforms, including reducing local authorities from 114 to 31 and cutting the number of councillors from 1,627 to 949.
Mr Hogan said the changes would make local government more accountable. The arrangement will also ensure citizens had more of a role with their councillors on how the property tax is used, he said.
There will be a public register of payments, expenses and allowances paid to councillors for attending conferences and other events. Savings of up to €45m are expected.
New auditing procedures are being legislated for and the posts of city and county managers will be changed to chief executive.
A system of municipal districts throughout each county will replace the 80 town councils. However, members who do not go on to be re-elected to city or county councils will be entitled to payouts for losing their positions under current rules.
Amounts are expected to average almost €4,000 for town councillors, the Department of the Environment said, but exact compensation payments will depend on their number of years served and position. The limit is €16,000 for 20 years' service.
Dublin voters will next year also be asked if they wanted a directly elected mayor under the bill. Mr Hogan yesterday said he would examine the possibility of such a measure for other cities.
Fianna Fáil was critical of the legislation, and argued that changes would move power into the hands of an elite few.
Environment spokesman Barry Cowen said: "Instead of empowering communities, Minister Hogan has gone in the opposite direction by slashing councils and undermining local democracy."
The Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland said town councils should be reformed, not abolished.
Willie Callaghan, president of the association, said: "Town councils currently have the power to determine local charges, such as commercial rates or parking charges, and to then decide how these monies are spent within their towns, such as community groups, residents associations and sporting groups. This power is now being taken away."