€1m for top officials

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The top ten officials in Donegal County Council earn more than €1 million a year, new figures released show.

The details of the pay of senior officials in all the county councils in the country show Donegal County Manager Seamus Neely earns €142,469 a year.

The council’s five directors of service, Michael Heaney, Garry Martin, John McLaughlin, Liam Ward and Joe Peoples all earn between €90,453 and €106,900 - giving them the potential to earn more than the Spanish prime minister who earns around €92,000.

Most county councils have four directors of service but Donegal is among a number that has five or more including Galway, Wicklow, Kilkenny and Carlow.

Donegal County Council has reduced its number of directors of service in recent years from seven to five by merging some of the directorates.

The figures, obtained by the Irish Examiner, show that four senior engineers in the council are earning between €74,223 and €87,117.

The salaries being paid at the top end of council management come despite a cut in pay rates in 2009.

A report by the local government efficiency review group in 2010 called for the number of staff at director of service level to be reduced by 20 per cent and for staff at senior executive, senior engineer, executive engineer and assistant engineer levels to be reduced by 15 per cent. The figures come after Donegal is believed to have one of the lowest payment rates of the €100 household charge which will be used to fund local authorities. The low collection rate in the county, suggested in some quarters to be as low as 25 per cent, could have serious implications for the council’s funding. The household charge is expected to replace the exchequer element of the Local Government Fund. Donegal County Council receives 21 per cent of its budget from the fund. Environment minister Phil Hogan has suggested he will incentivise higher collection rates of the charge by giving a greater allocation of the income to local authorities that “pull out all the stops” to collect the charge.