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Where will mayor pay come from?

Wednesday, 24th April, 2019 4:38pm

There are growing fears that the €300,000 cash injection for Cork’s directly elected mayor will mean key areas of the council budget losing out.

City councillors are concerned that funding the new role will mean cuts to crucial areas if it is voted through next month.

The public are due to vote on 24 May on whether to create the position of a directly elected mayor with increased powers including drafting the annual city budget, creating policy and implementing a programme of office.

The role is expected to cost €313,916 annually, including a salary of €129, 854, and added costs for two advisors, allowances and a driver.

However, councillors and analysts are speculating that other costs and taxes could mean the figure rises close to €500,000.

Speaking at a Cork City Council meeting this week, Fianna Fáil Cllr Tony Fitzgerald admitted that the “salary has been a big issue” in discussions around the position.

Cllr Fitzgerald added that the position would need “a lot of investment” in order to be successful, adding: “Unfortunately that funding is going to come from the budget that we have.

“The historical symbolism of the office is very important and needs to be maintained, but there is financial implications to that.”

Speaking to the Cork Independent Fianna Fáil Cllr Terry Shannon said: “It’s the position of the Local Government Department that this will have to be paid for by the councils themselves. So unless we’re raising taxes, we’ll have to cut something out to pay for this. That to me is not acceptable.”

Solidarity Cllr Fiona Ryan said she was concerned about the “enormous” money needed for the role, and said the publ;ci had not be adequately informed about the vote.

Director of Finance John Hallahan admitted at Tuesday’s meeting that it was “certainly significant money”, and said “currently we don’t have any income stream to cover that. We’ll have to wait and see what incomes and expenditures we have in the budget, but at the moment I really couldn’t tell you where that money will come from.”

Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn told the Cork Independent that: “Cork City Council, or any council for that matter, could in no way factor in the guts of half a million every year in the current budget.

“So unless the Government is prepared to fund that centrally, I can’t really see how it’s going to operate, and a lot of services are going to suffer because of it.

“While I still support the concept of a directly elected mayor, it’s very unrealistic for a Government which has cut funding to councils for basic resources like roads in the last number of years to fund that. I’m calling on the Government, if they want this to be introduced, to fund it, for Cork and the other counties as well.”

If the plebiscite passes, the first directly elected mayor will enter office in 2022 on a shorter term before the period increases to a five year term at the 2024 local elections.

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