Dublin councillors concerned over transfer of assets to Irish Water

Monday 16 December 2013 21.30
Dublin city councillors described the transfer to Irish Water as a 'bad deal'
Dublin city councillors described the transfer to Irish Water as a 'bad deal'

The transfer of assets to Irish Water from Dublin City Council will pose "financial and operational risks" according to council officials.

A special meeting of councillors heard a report from manager Owen Keegan, which revealed that €2 billion of council assets, including pipes and treatment plants, will be transferred to Irish Water without compensation.

However, the council will still have pension liabilities for staff transferring to the new water authority, which could total €330 million.

The report also revealed there will be a €1.7 million shortfall in the money paid by Irish Water to the council for the provision of water services next year.

The meeting heard that savings will have to be made in the council budget because of this, probably through not filling vacancies.

There is also concern that water charges for Dublin businesses will increase as a uniform national charge is expected to be introduced.

Mr Keegan said Dublin had lower water charges than the rest of the country because of economies of scale and investment in infrastructure.

But he said there was no funding available to the council or offset the expected increase.

Many councillors expressed fears about the capital's competitiveness as a result of any increase.

They were also concerned about the loss of infrastructure assets.

Independent councillor Vincent Jackson said this plan involved "asset-stripping" and the loss of control of another council service following the privatisation of waste collection.

"Soon all we will have control over is footpaths and parks and a couple of swimming pools" he said.

In his report, Mr Keegan said despite all the issues with the draft service level agreement with Irish Water, it probably represents the best deal that could be negotiated.

Neither Irish Water or Department of Environment officials accepted an invitation to attend the meeting.

Councillors passed a motion expressing concern at what they described as a "bad deal" and called on Environment Minister Phil Hogan to meet a delegation from the council.