Cork will decide on its first directly-elected mayor in 2021 if a public vote to create the position passes this May.
The position will cost in the region of €300,000 per year, including a €130,000 salary for the office holder.
The Cabinet yesterday greenlit plans for the direct local vote on the single issue of whether or not to create the position of a directly-elected mayor.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the role is being proposed, in part, to back up the Government’s national development plan.
“It’s all about greater local democracy and it’s all about implementing Project Ireland 2040, providing local political leadership for that and our ambitious plan to ensure that those cities and those cities’ regions grow their population by 15% between now and 2040,” he said.
While Minister John Paul Phelan is to deliver a policy paper in the coming weeks, Mr Varadkar outlined in broad detail what the Government will propose to voters in Cork, Limerick, and Waterford in local plebiscites to be held alongside the local elections at the end of May.
He said that there will be “a significant transfer of powers from officials to the directly-elected mayor”.
He said that if the plebiscites are passed, the chief executive of a local authority, currently Ann Doherty in Cork City Council, will answer to the directly elected mayor in the same way a department secretary general does to a government minister.
“The directly-elected mayor will propose the budget, will propose the development plan, but individual decisions will remain with the CEO, for example, which individual is allocated a house, individual planning decision, and human resources matters will stay with the CEO,” he said.
He confirmed that mayors will get the same €130,000 salary as a minister of state, as well as a number of staff to support them in their roles.
The total cost if all three cities would be less than €1m a year, he said.
The nomination process would be similar to that of a Dáil candidate, but there will be a system to recall or impeach a mayor.
The first elections will be held in 2021 for a two-and-a-half year term, with subsequent elections being held for five-year terms from 2024 on, in line with council elections.