Limerick councils to be merged

Tuesday 28 June 2011 20.17
Limerick - Up to €15m a year could be saved
Limerick - Up to €15m a year could be saved

The Government has confirmed plans to merge Limerick city and county councils into one entity, with a directly elected Mayor.

Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government Phil Hogan said a new merged entity will be created when Limerick city and county council become a single local government body for the entire region.

It will have an immediate positive impact on business, says Phil Hogan, with commercial rates being revised downwards to the current lower county rates.

He believes the move will save €15m a year in administration costs and this will be used to fast-track development projects in the region.

It will all be headed by a directly elected Mayor for Limerick from the 2014 local elections onwards. That position comes with a five-year term.

The minister said he would not rule out other local authority mergers.

Meanwhile, Minister Hogan also said a directly elected Mayor for Dublin was being re-examined.

A decision on this will be made in the autumn along with plans for local government in the capital and elsewhere.

Merger

The proposals to merge Limerick's councils are in line with the recommendations of a report published last year, which recommended a single authority for Limerick as the best way forward for proper city and county planning.

The Limerick Local Government Committee, led by Denis Brosnan, also said such a merger could bring about efficiencies worth €20m.

Limerick City Council has argued against the merger and has instead sought a boundary extension so it could absorb the large suburbs of Castletroy, Caherdavin and Raheen.

The merged authority in Limerick will serve a population of around 187,000 people.

Limerick City Council currently has 17 councillors spread over four boroughs while Limerick County Council has 28 seats in five different areas.

An amalgamation will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of councillors, though the exact figure would be based on the Central Statistics Office’s population figures.

It is thought likely that proposals to include the estates of Shannon Banks and Westbury, which are located in Co Clare's administrative area, will not be part of the merger.

However, a section of land at the University of Limerick, which is across the river in Co Clare, may be included in the new authority so that the university would come under the remit of one single regional authority.