COUNCILLORS RACK UP THE EXPENSES
With the local elections this Friday the people of North Cork will be asked to vote for candidates to serve their needs on Cork County Council.
While the job of a county councillor is considered a part-time position, and the majority of those elected will continue with their day jobs, many of the electorate are asking if we’re getting value for money in these recessionary times.
Last year (2008) the four county councillors from the Fermoy electoral area cost the taxpayer over €140,000 in salaries and expenses. Councillors are paid a salary known as a ‘Representational Payment’ of €17,000 and can then claim over this amount in expenses including travel and subsistence allowances.
Based on the last available figures, it has emerged that most councillors double their €17,000 payment with expenses. On average, each councilor cost the taxpayer over €36,000 in 2008.
One councilor was also paid an additional €27,000 as a member of Fermoy Town Council while another received up to €45,000 as a parliamentary secretary for a local TD.
Meanwhile voters in the Kilmallock electoral area are also considering other value for money issues as they go to the polls on Friday.
Outgoing Councilor John Gallahue has been a long time campaigner against what he sees as the ‘conference and expenses’ culture that seems to be part of what it is to be a councilor.
“We must remember that most councilors have other jobs and businesses and, of course, they must be paid for the work they do. However, a culture of greed has entered the system where certain councillors are not only milking the cash cow but, indeed, are milking the whole herd.
"It seems to be standard practice to claim more expenses than salary, that’s all well and fine if the work is being done but, for example, there is a culture of signing up for a conference, claiming the costs of the conference, the mileage, and other expenses and then not attending the conference at all. This is a regular occurrence not only in Limerick and Cork County Councils but nationwide as well,” Cllr Gallahue told The Avondhu.
There have also been reports that employees of Limerick County Council will soon be asked to work a three-day week. So, with people losing their jobs and having their wages cut, one of the questions to be answered when you are about to vote on Friday must be - Who are the candidates that will provide value for your money in your community?
Thursday 4th June 7:28pm