New directly elected mayors would have to be paid according to the size of the local authority they represent, according to the Minister for Local Government John Paul Phelan.
The Cabinet is to expected to discuss proposals for directly elected mayors in Cork, Limerick and Waterford this week, in advance of a plebiscite in May.
Mr Phelan said that while no decision has been made on the salary levels, a directly elected mayor of Limerick would have to earn more than that of Leitrim where the size of the local authority would be much smaller.
According to the proposals outlined by Mr Phelan, responsibility for executive functions could be transferred to the directly elected mayor, but there would still be a need for a chief executive.
The new position would exclude executive functions related to planning matters, which would remain with the chief executive.
Mr Phelan said he saw the position of directly elected mayor as one which "should bridge the gap" between the existing reserved and executive functions of local authorities.
"The executive mayor would have a similar relationship to the local authority chief executive as a Government Minister has to a Secretary General of a Government Department".
Labour Councillor and former Lord Mayor of Dublin Dermot Lacey rejected the idea of a ministerial level salary: "Setting the salary at that of a Dáil Deputy or Senator would be for me a far more appropriate approach."
A mechanism to recall the mayor will also be set out, giving voters the chance to remove an individual from office.
The decision on a directly elected mayor for Dublin, with four local authorities, will be referred to a citizens’ assembly.