Plan to unify two councils could save €30m

Two local authorities are on course to be unified after 180 years as separate bodies.

Returning North and South Tipperary county councils to a single entity could bring about savings to the exchequer of €30m.

The savings could be made over a period of five years, the Department of Environment claimed.

The proposal, published recently by the Tipperary Reorganisation Implementation Group, envisages a reduction in the annual payrolls of €4.8m.

It also advocates reducing the number of senior managers by 40%, creating an annual saving of over €6m.

The amalgamation was first announced in July last year, and is planned to be in effect from the 2014 local elections. Environment Minister Phil Hogan said that he was “very pleased” with the progress.

But North Tipperary county councillor Michael O’ Meara (Ind) said the move will have some negative implications, including an initial cost of about €2.3m to upgrade staff and redesign buildings.

“While there are both pros and cons, I cannot see the savings the minister is talking about. We will also have petrol costs of getting from North to South Tipperary or vice versa,” he said.

“Our standard of service will also be negatively impacted upon. The reduction in the number of staff and councillors will be bad for rural areas, who may not have enough local representation.”

South Tipperary county councillor Tom Acheson (FG) said that the plan was more about the reform of local government than about finance.

“In the short term it probably won’t save money but in the long run we are hoping it will create economies of scale,” he said.

“Councillors will be out of their comfort zone for a while, but over time we hope they will serve the people like they always have done,”

Under the plan, local authority offices at Clonmel and Nenagh will be retained. Similar plans for Limerick county and city councils have been approved and will come into effect in two years’ time.


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