The Lord Mayor of Cork City, Mick Finn, has called on the Government not to give directly elected mayors “ministerial-style” salaries of up to €130,000, if the new system is introduced. He says the funds should be used elsewhere.
The minister of state for local government, John Paul Phelan, is due to bring a memo to cabinet next week, outlining plans for mayors in larger local authorities to be paid more than those in smaller areas, if the public votes for the new system in May.
While reports have suggested this means that the salary scale could be as high as €130,000, Mr Phelan said no decision has yet been made.
However, speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Finn insisted any suggestion of a “ministerial-style” salary would send out the wrong message to the public.
“We’re all punching in the dark a small bit, because of the lack of clarity on this, but, to me, anything like €130,000 is very high and far too high,” said Mr Finn.
“The one danger is you could be creating a ministerial-style salary, when it could be used for other services.”
Until 2014, mayors in larger local authorities, such as Cork, Limerick, Dublin, and Waterford, received salaries in the region of €100,000, but the rules were changed five years ago to reduce costs to €40,000-50,000 for most areas, said Mr Finn.
He said that if the new directly elected mayor system involves mayors taking the majority of the executive powers from local authority chief executives, the salary could be increased marginally, but warned about the costs involved.
Former lord mayor of Dublin Dermot Lacey also rejected the idea of a ministerial-level salary, telling RTÉ News yesterday that “setting the salary at that of a Dáil deputy or senator would be, for me, a far more appropriate approach”.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, Mr Phelan said that while he is aware of the €130,000 figure, there is still no decision on salary levels.