Costs for elected councillors are set to rise by 29% in 2014 with changes in local government.
While Naas, Athy, Newbridge and Leixlip Town Councils will be abolished, the number of elected members working out of Aras CHill Dara will rise from 25 to 40 with the formation of five municipal districts.
The Council’s annual Budget estimate, agreed on 16 December, estimates that the “Local Representation/Civic Leadership” budget will rise from €1,470,993 in 2013 to €1,900,983, an increase of 29%.
While attempts by some of the independent councillors to reign in conferences expenses appear to have worked, the increase in numbers will see the costs of elected councillors going up by close to a third.
No money was spent on conferences abroad, as opposed to those in Ireland, in 2013, and there is no budget for foreign travel in 2014 either.
Allowing a figure of 25 councillors for a half year and 40 for a full year, the average cost of a councillor will amount to €58,942.
Of this €24,862 will go, on average, on payments to each member, with a separate €54,000 going on allowances for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
The representional payments will rise 76% from €458,000 to €808,000.
A separate sum of €320,000 has been earmarked for members expenses (separate to the payments), which is a 32% increase on the 2013 figure. This will amount to €9,846 per councillor.
Another €180,000 in this budget will be spent on contributions to members associations or what one member described as their “trade union.” This is a 13% drop on the 2013 payment of €207,000.The average cost per council or here is €5,538.
The second largest amount in this budget is €478,983 for what are known through the Budget accounts as “service support costs”, which is the what the administration pay to support the elected members. This figure is 4% down on the €499,993 estimated eventual payment for 2013, even though, the administration will be dealing with the equivalent of just over 32 councillors (due to the increase to 40 councillors after the May election.
The 2014 service support costs amounts to €14,738 per member.