A Tramore Town Councillor and former mayor has got exactly what he wanted for Christmas – a 10 percent pay-cut.
Independent member Joe Conway applied to the Waterford County Manager to have his representational allowance reduced.
Ray O’Dwyer granted his request and his stipend will be duly decreased from this weekend onwards. The councillor said he decided to act on foot of the headline salary reductions in some sectors of the public service.
“In getting this pay-cut, I wanted to make a political point as forcefully as I could – that there are other avenues to cutbacks without hitting schoolchildren and our older citizens.
“I do not want to portray myself as more self-sacrificing than anyone else. Rather was I impelled to act in my own small way to demonstrate that there are other sections of society more enabled to take stringencies, other than our most vulnerable members,” he explained.
Cllr Conway, a former primary school principal, added: “There is no justifiable, logical or economic basis for hitting education. Apart altogether from hampering children with reduced learning opportunities, educational cutbacks will retard our economic future prosperity.
“I thought that it was the Government’s thrust that we were supposed to endure the pain now to ensure a stable fiscal future. Instead we are administering a lethal concoction under the guise of a miracle cure.”
He also feels measures which will see older people losing their medical cards, “most of them only marginally over the income threshold, is a callous way to reward those who forged this State out of nothing.”
The representational payment, which benefited from benchmarking, is currently €15,949 per annum for a city or county councillor, plus expenses (of around €100 a week) and mileage. ‘Pro rata’ amounts (roughly one quarter) are paid to members of borough and town authorities like Tramore – i.e. just over €4,000 a year, with town mayors getting an additional allowance of around €11,000.
Some local authority members, of course, sit on both Town and County Councils. Waterford’s City and County Mayors would each stand to receive around €45,000 extra for their term in office.
Waterford County Councillors received an average of €33,000 in 2007. This includes a €7,000 allowance for each councillor for conferences during the year. Strategic Policy Committee chairpersons receive a further allowance of around €4,000, with supplementary payments for positions on bodies such as the VEC and Southern Health Forum.
Councillors stress that they routinely forego occupational earnings and countless hours in fulfilling their public duties.
It’s not known how many of Mr Conway’s 1,700-or-so council colleagues throughout the country have applied for a similar pay-cut. A source at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government was ‘not aware’ of any other such instances.