Laois County Councillors were paid more than €500,000 in expenses and allowances last year with nearly €60,000 claimedo politicians who attended conferences in their capacities as public representatives.
With a pay rise on the horizon, official figures reveal that a total of €522,606 was spread out among the 19 sitting councillors in 2017. Of the total, €58,769 was reimbursed in travel and subsistence expenses incurred by councillors on conference trips outside Laois.
Each councillor received an annual representative basic payment of €16,566.06. This was payed in installments of €634.92 per councillor. All councillors also received an annual allowance which varies in size from €4,100 to €5,325.
The Council cathaoirleach receives a 12 month payment of nearly €18,400 while the vice-chair is paid nearly €3,700 extra. Councillors who chair strategic policy (SPC) committees are paid an extra €6,000 annually. SPC meetings are held behind closed doors.
The chairs of the three municipal districts Laois received €5,519.28 each.
After winning the largest number of seats on the council at the 2014 local elections Fianna Fáil entered into a power sharing agreement with Fine Gael. This meant the parties shared out all the chairperson's positions which rotate over five years.
This had impact payments but some councillors have opted out of the conference circuit. Cllr Aidan Mullins of Sinn Féin claimed no conference expenses last year while Cllr Willie Aird and Cllr Dave Goodwin also opted out of the circuit.
Cllr Padraig Fleming of Fianna Fáil was the highest earning councillor. His €36,217.55 included conference expenses as well as chairperson and vice-chairperson allowances.
Councillors receive separate payments of non-council duties.
The 2017 Laois County Council payments were as follows
Cllr Joh King, Fing Gael : €32,2273.56 included conference bill of €4,554.40 and €5,979.22 municipal district chair allowance.
Cllr John Joe Fennelly, Fianna Fáil: €27,705.51 included €3,754.19 conference bill and €3,104.60 municipal district chair allowance.
Cllr Brendan Phelan, Independent: €27,580.35 included €2,689.21 conference bill and €3,000 SPC chair allowance.
Cllr Aidan Mullins, Sinn Féin: €20,917.54. No conference expenses or other allowances.
Cllr Tom Mulhall, Fine Gael: €33,776.62 included €2,681.86 conference bill and €10,347.22 county council cathaoirleach bill
Cllr Padraig Fleming, Fianna Fáil: €36,217.55 included €3,481.69 conference bill, €9,580.76 county council cathaoirleach allowance and a €2,069.69 council vice-chairman's allowance.
Cllr Ben Brennan, Independent: €24,436.15 included €2,554.49 conference bill.
Cllr Paschal McEvoy, Fianna Fáil: €31,330.64 included €4,478.50 and municipal district chair allowance of €3,104.60.
Cllr John Moran, Fine Gael: €31,901.03 included €4662.36 expense bill and €2,874.63 municipal district chair allowance.
Cllr Willie Aird, Fine Gael: €22,590.42 included €1,916.38 county council vice-chair allowance.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley, Sinn Féin: €25,275.38 included €4,527.84 conference bill.
Cllr James Kelly, Independent: €28,253.85 included €2,899.63 conference bill and €3,000 SPC chair allowance.
Cllr David Goodwin, Fine Gael: €20,827.94 - no conference bill.
Cllr Paddy Bracken, Fianna Fáil: €28,192.33 included €4,418.69 conference bill and €3,000 SPC chair allowance.
Cllr Noel Tuohy, Labour Party: €23,653.61 included conference bill of €2,906.07.
Cllr Mary Sweeney, Fine Gael: €27,217.31 included conference bill of €3,469.77 and €3,000 SPC chair allowance.
Cllr Jerry Lodge, Fianna Fáil: €26,473.95 included conference bill of €2,627.35 and €3,000 SPC chair allowance.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, Fianna Fáil: €25,359 included conference bill of €4,494.01.
Cllr Seamus McDonald, Fianna Fáil: €28,623.71 included conference bill of €4,568.97 and €3,000 SPC chair allowance.