Wicklow Councillors set for 50% pay hike
Wicklow’s county councillors are likely to be given a pay rise of around €8,000 each next year, approximately 50% more than they are currently getting.
County councillors are paid €17,060 a year, in addition to unvouched expenses of between €2,286 and €2,667, and vouched expenses up to €5,000.
An 18-month Government-commissioned report by Senior Counsel Sara Moorhead, due soon, is expected to recommend an €8,000 increase to the payment of all councillors.
If approved it will add more than €256k to the cost of running the council.
There are 32 councillors in Wicklow – Bray has eight, while Greystones, Wicklow Town, Arklow and Baltinglass all have six each.
Many councillors in Wicklow work full-time as councillors or combine it with other jobs and on an hourly basis, most would earn less than minimum wage.
There are 949 councillors in the county, meaning that the predicted pay rise will cost taxpayers more than €7.5m a year.
Ms Moorhead has been working on the report since June 2018 after repeated concerns were raised over pay levels among councillors and whether they should be increased.
The report was initially due in March. However, it had been delayed until the end of the year, due in part to the complicated and delicate public nature of the issue.
Government sources said the final report is likely to recommend pay rises for city and county councillors in the region of €8,000 a year.
Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan has stipulated that councillors’ pay increase calls will have to compete with rival public sector demands.
“It is important to bear in mind that the annual expenses allowance is just that – an expense allowance,” Mr Phelan said.
“It is payable on the basis that it offsets costs incurred by the individual claiming it. The allowance is not, and should not be considered as, an income.”
He told the Oireachtas Committee on Local Government that any increase must first be discussed at wider public sector pay talks and be balanced against competing demands.
TDs and Senators on the committee challenged Mr Phelan on whether he would commit to pay increases for councillors.
He said that he, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and public expenditure minister Paschal Donohoe “agree that councillors shouldn’t be the worst paid people in the room when it comes to local authority staff.”