As Laois’ councillors knock on our doors seeking votes in the election, it has been revealed that their earnings came to more than three quarters of a million euros last year, while four town councillors claimed almost €4,000 in mileage to go to two conferences.
Laois has 25 county councillors whose wages and expenses came to €709,924 in 2013, averaging €27,304 each.
Another €32,827 was spent on Portlaoise Town Council which has ten councillors, six of whom also serve as county councillors. Mountmellick Town Council cost €30,422.67 for nine councillors, two of whom are also county councillors.
In total the 35 local representatives cost €773,578.
The top five earners include four Fine Gael politicians. As the majority party in Laois County Council, Fine Gael can choose who gets voted to the high profile position of Cathaoirleach (chairman of Laois County Council) which includes a bonus payment.
They are headed by Portarlington’s independent county councillor Paul Mitchell, who ensured Fine Gael gained the majority of seats in the 2009 election, and was later elected as cathaoirleach.
Cllr Mitchell was paid €46,231 in 2013, and a similar amount in 2012. The retired teacher is retiring now from public office after ten years.
The next highest paid is Fine Gael county councillor and librarian Mary Sweeney from Ballyroan who earned €47,755 last year. This also included a payment for part of her year as cathaoirleach.
Borris-in-Ossory FG councillor John King was paid €39,467. The Rathdowney fireman was elected as a first time councillor in 2009.
The fourth highest paid is FG Cllr James Daly in Luggacurran, at €38,451, while in at fifth place is Cllr John Bonham at €34,792.
Meanwhile four councillors claimed ‘mileage allowance’ ranging from €617 to over €1,000 to attend the same two conferences, the AMAI annual conference in Inchidoney, Cork and the AMAI spring conference in New Ross, Wexford.
In Mountmellick, Fianna Fáil Cllr Paddy Bracken claimed €1,005.16 for attending the conferences, while Sinn Féin Cllr Stephen Lynch claimed €998.51.
In Portlaoise Cllrs Catherine Fitzgerald claimed €758.51, and Cllr Kathleen O’Brien €617.49.
All 44 posts will be history next May 23 when both TCs and the county council will be disbanded to make way for a new system, with 19 new municipal representatives working in three districts. To date 45 candidates are contesting the seats.