LAOis County Councillors are being paid for up to 200 meetings per year that they do not have to attend.
Councillors are paid travel and subsistence allowances for attending council meetings, but under government rules, they only have to turn up to 80 percent of meetings in a year to get paid for going to all meetings.
However, the local government auditor has called on county hall to change the system. Mr AP Doheny said it would be more “cost effective” if each councillor was only paid travel and subsistence for the actual number of meetings attended, up to a certain number of meetings.
While the auditor called for a new system, the law actually protects the politicans. In response to Mr Doheny’s proposal, county manager, Peter Carey said that the payment of expenses to the elected members was made in accordance with the Local Government Regulations 2006.
Mr Doheny made his recommendation on the 2009 statutory audit report which was presented to county councillors this month. The item was not discussed by councillors at their monthly meeting.
Laois councillors need to attend 32 of 40 meetings in a year to claim their full expenses. If each of the 25 councillors only attended the required 32 meetings per year, this would equate to councillors being paid for up to 200 meetings which they had not attended. The attendance requirements do not relate to conferences.
In other local authorities, elected members may be required to attend more or less meetings depending on the size of the local authority.
Last year, Laois County Council spent 128,000 euros on expenses for local authority members, and they have set aside 133,500 euros for councillors expenses for 2011.