Leitrim’s 22 County Councillors claimed €623,403 in payments and expenses last year, an average of €28,000 each.
The figure is a significant chunk out of the Council’s dwindling budget, especially with over €1m to be slashed from the coffers this year to compensate for those not paying the Household charge. The increasing amount, up marginally €5,000 from 2010’s figures will put fuel on the debate to cut the number of councillors and to reduce expenses during the current recession.
The above figure does not include the €42,562.04 paid to Deputy Michael Colreavy - €38,708 of this was a retirement gratuity from the council on his election to Dail Eireann.
The two highest earners on the council last year were obviously the joint chair people Frank Dolan and John McTernan.
The two served six months each as head of the Leitrim County Council. Frank Dolan pipped McTernan for the top spot, he earned €44,306 last year, while John McTernan took home €42,572.
Ballinamore Councillor Gordon Hughes came third in the highest earners, Chair of County Development Board and Strategic Policy Committee last year he claimed €20,774 on top of his basic €16,724 representative salary. Independent Cllr Enda Stenson (Leas Cathaoirleach for six months in 2011) was the only non- Fine Gael Councillor to get into the top 5, he took home €35,207 from the council while Siobhan McGloin claimed €16,252 on top of her salary of €16,724.
Sinn Fein Cllr Sean McSharry was only co-opted on to Leitrim County Council in March last year so his earnings were just €18,366. Cllr Gerry Reynolds had the lowest expenses claim of the 22 full time councillors. The Carrick Town representative claimed for just €6,039 on top of the basic salary.
Annual Allowances and Conferences Expenses were the biggest categories councillor claimed for. The annual allowance is for reasonable expenses incurred in attending meetings associated with their council business and miscellaneous costs such as postage bills as well as travel expenses, subsistence and a fixed annual amount. Fianna Fail’s Tony Ferguson topped the annual allowance rate, claiming €7,391, while five councillors claimed €3,300 for conference fees and travel. Conference events cost Leitrim council in total €61,929 last year.
Cllr Frank Dolan was the only councillor to claim for foreign travel, he got €1,632.94 for his New York trip last for St Patrick’s Day.
Glenfarne’s Sean McDermott topped the Adhoc expenses claims with €1,085 and the two McGloin Fine Gael Councillors topped the mobile phone allowance claim with €600 each. Independent Cllr Gerry Dolan and Fine Gael Cllr John McCartin were the only two councillors not to claim any phone allowance last year. Cllr John McCartin claimed €12,730 on top of the basic wage in 2011, he sent a statement to the Leitrim Observer saying “I have given all expenses received to date to local charities. It is my intention to continue to do this for the duration of my service to Leitrim County Council.”
These figures were provided to the Leitrim Observer by request from Leitrim County Council. See page 5 for a full table breakdown of payments and expenses.