Saturday, March 24, 2012

Second Submission Document in relation to Amalgamation Consultation Committee

Second Submission Document on behalf of the
Members of Waterford City Council.
For the attention of Waterford City Council & Waterford County Council
Amalgamation Consultation Committee.

We would like to thank the Chairman and members of the Committee for affording us the opportunity to address them a second time and indeed for allowing us to make a further written submission. Essentially we have no desire to go over the ground covered in our first combined submission. However as more information has come to light in the interim which deals specifically with costs & savings we would ask the committee to give serious consideration to the points below:

The following can be said with certainty

· At face value there would appear to be €1.8 Million per annum possible additional saving for the amalgamation option but this will be neutered by the shared services initiatives at National level, by political and staff vested interests and by the sheer length of time taken to achieve the change with the instruments available. The truth is, nothing is ever achieved in a ten year timeframe, particularly in the political and public domain, as the world will simply have moved on and the environment driving the proposal will have changed so much that the project will never be completed.

· It is simply implausible for the Committee to say with any certainty that there will be additional savings of more than €1 Million per annum for the amalgamation option over the shared services option and that these savings will be achieved without significant cost and in anything less than a six or seven year period.

· The Committee has no certain knowledge that there will be betterment of service consequent on either option and there is almost certainly likely to be a worsening in service and capacity in the combined organisation.

· It is certain that there will be reduced democratic representation and consequent reduction of real subsidiarity.

· There will certainly be resource drift from the gateway consequent on the demographic and electoral profile.

· There are certainly reputational and status implications for the City.

· There are potential gains from a merger that are unmeasurable but there are also potential risks that are unmeasurable but far greater. These are primarily consequent on the mission difference - particularly in the social area. This risk can be quantified by comparison to Limerick where the regeneration, social, policing and future health bill is in the order of €1.5 – 2 Billion.

· Is the possibility of taking on a €1-2 Billion future cost anyway viable for a saving of €1 Million per annum.

What logic is there to taking this risk when a viable alternative exists?

What is the viable alternative?

Undertake the Shared Services piece of work in the first six or seven years. This will yield the majority of savings in this period anyway - at a lesser cost. Review the operation after six years with a view to possible implementation in 2018 – if it is the right thing to do at this stage.

If the cost of the democratic representation consequent on two Councils in the interim is considered too great – reduce the numbers across both Councils for the 2013 to 2018 period.

What are the advantages of this alternative?

It yields certainty and manages risk better.

It achieves the majority of the savings that are immediately available anyway.

It allows the mix at national level to settle down and national efficiency initiatives and other proposals such as continuation or otherwise of the Croke Park Agreement to be resolved.

It makes the amalgamation far more deliverable post 2018.

(photo shows restored section of Waterford City Great Charter)