Clonmel and Nenagh are retain their two main County Council offices and there will be a 40% reduction in senior council management staff under the merger of North and South Tipperary Co. Councils.
That’s according to the Implementation Plan for the setting up of the unified Co. Tipperary Co. Council that was published yesterday (Tuesday) by Environment, Community & Local Government Minister Phil Hogan. The new merged county council is to be established in time for the 2014 local elections.
Minister Hogan said he was very pleased with the progress of the re-organisation process and welcomed the fact that there will be potential savings of
€30 million over the five-year lifetime of the Council.
But he said the rationale for unification did not lie primarily in financial benefits.
“It should also bring about stronger, more cohesive local government that is better positioned to promote the interests of the county and contribute to job creation and the recovery effort generally.
“A unified local authority, following 173 years of separation, will serve an increased population, should have greater scale, strength, assets and capacity to help meet challenges arising and to promote the economic and social development of the county as a whole,” he said in a statement.
The main recommendations of the Implementation Plan to merge the two county councils include a new management structure involving a reduction of approximately 40% in senior grade; a target of 10% reduction in payroll costs; further savings on non-pay administrative costs; the harmonisation of commercial rates and service charges in north and south Tipperary and retention of two principal local authority centres in Clonmel and Nenagh.
The Implementation Plan also recommends the streamlining of functions and the preparation of an economic development plan for the county.
According to the Minister, legislation has been enacted to cover transitional management arrangements. Up until the merger in 2014, organisational rationalisation and integration will proceed as far as possible, including integration of services and administration, and alignment and convergence in policies between the two authorities.
Further legislation will be required to implement, with effect from the 2014 local elections, the merger of the two authorities, establishment of a new unitary authority and transfer of the functions, and relevant finance, assets, liabilities, and staff from the existing councils to the successor authority.
Minister Hogan thanked the Tipperary Reorganisation Implementation Group and the support team and staff in both authorities who are making an excellent contribution to the unification process.
“I also want to acknowledge the positive engagement to date by councillors and unions in both councils with the process. I can guarantee my full support and that of my Department for the on-going work and my determination to bring the process to a successful conclusion,” he said.
South Tipperary Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes said he fully supported the retention of the local authority offices in Clonmel and Nenagh centres, particularly in light of the €33 million investment that has been made in local authority facilities in both town.
“To address duplication, it has been recommended that council functions be divided across the two centres. However, there will be a capacity to provide frontline services in both Nenagh and Clonmel.
“There is expected to be substantial investment in both locations for the provision of customer service desks, allowing constituents to have any and all queries dealt with by staff at either council centre. That means whether your issue relates to water, roads, planning, or housing, it can be dealt with at your local County Council office,” Deputy Hayes explained.
He also revealed the Council’s new management structure will comprise a manager, five directors of services and a head of finance for the entire county. “The Implementation Group has also reported that they expect to make significant savings once this amalgamation is complete.
Obviously there will be some short term expense as both councils are merged, particularly on the IT side of things.
“In total it is expected that around €3.8 million per year will initially be saved as a result of this reorganisation. We expect to see that saving rise to €6 million per annum in the medium to long term,” Deputy Hayes added.