Proposals to abolish a significant number of town councils will be discussed today in the Cabinet's last meeting before they follow the TDs who have already departed on a two-month summer break.
About 25 councils out of 80 are at immediate risk of abolition because of their limited range of functions. Town councillors receive an annual payment of €8,400 plus expenses and any cuts will also have an impact on council staff.
The abolition of Sligo Borough Council was also proposed by economist Colm McCarthy in his Bórd Snip report. He also advocated the abolition of Sligo County Council and Leitrim County Council and replace the three councils with one amalgamated body, with less councillors, to administrate the two counties.
Local government reform proposals by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan are on the list for Cabinet today and the minister is finalising his proposals for a reduction in the number of city and county councillors and his intention to scrap most town councils.
The fate of Sligo Borough Council may be known later today.
Minister Hogan has also spoken about looking at the devolution of functions, giving the councils more powers from central government, giving councillors more responsibilities versus the county manager and giving councils a strong economic role on a local level.
However speculation is increasing that the Cabinet will give responsibility for collecting the new property tax to the Revenue Commissioners.
There may be no decisions made today as there is likely to be further disagreement between the coalition partners. The Labour Party wants the reforms to go beyond cutting in the numbers of councillors by bridging the gap in representation in different parts of the country.
The level of representation ranges from Leitrim, where there is one councillor for every 1,500 people, to Fingal in Dublin, where there is one councillor for every 10,000 people.
Fine Gael's argument appears to be that councillors cover a geographic area, as well as the local population.
With the next local elections coming in 2014, all the parties want to see the plans finalised so they know how many seats are in each area to allow candidate selection to begin.
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