COUNCILLORS in Ballymoney, in total, earned over £200,000 last year and the biggest pay-packet belonged to former mayor, Ian Stevenson.
The DUP man was the highest paid local representative in Riada House in the last financial year, new figures have revealed.
The Ballymoney Borough Council website has now published a list of the amount of ‘allowances’ paid to councillors and Cllr Stevenson’s figure was just short of £20,000 for the period from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012. All amounts were properly claimed.
The total amount paid to councillors was over £208,855.
Councillors sitting for the full twelve months a year are paid a basic allowance of £9,738 and individual councillors in Ballymoney can get extra money for positions of responsibility, like mayor.
That meant Ian Stevenson was paid an extra £3,417 for the year and the ‘First Citizen’ - who during the year carried out many engagements - also had the highest total in the ‘travel and subsistence’ sector - £3,717.
Councillors also get paid for being members of the District Policing Partnership and the highest earner in that bracket was Cllr Evelyne Robinson (DUP), with £4,810.
The statistics provided by the Council also show the number of meetings attended by councillors and out of 76 meetings, Cllr John Finlay and his DUP party colleague Robert Halliday, had the best attendances with 71 apiece.
The top earners at Ballymoney Council were as follows: 1. Ian Stevenson (DUP), £19,899; 2. Evelyne Robinson (DUP), £17,875; 3. Cecil Cousley (DUP), £15,226; 4. Frank Campbell (DUP), £15,126; 5. John Finlay (DUP), £14,661; 6. Anita Cavlan, £14,138; 7. Tom McKeown (Ulster Unionist), £14,008; 8. Robert Halliday (DUP), £13,048.
9. Philip McGuigan (Sinn Fein), £12,968; 10. Harry Connolly (SDLP), £12,288: 11. Bill Kennedy (DUP), £11,401; 12. Cathal McLaughlin (Sinn Fein), £10,856; 13. Mervyn Storey (DUP), £9,738; 14. Jason Atkinson (DUP), £9,380; 15. William Blair (TUV), £8,717; 16. Roma McAfee (Independent), £4,450.
Cllr Blair and Cllr Atkinson were elected in May last year so their basic allowance reflected that and Cllr McAfee only entered the Council chamber well into the financial year after a dispute about the election of her husband Iain McAfee, whose seat she then took up.
Cllrs Blair, McKeown, McAfee and Storey did not claim any fees for travel and subsistence.
The total amount of money paid concerning all councillors in 2011-12 was £208,855 which was down from the figure of £228,872 for 2010-11.
One critic of the amount of money paid to councillors in general contacted the Times.
He said: “Recently it was publicised that the average income in Ballymoney is one of the lowest in Northern Ireland at an average of ￡£324 a week. The post of a councillor is a part time one yet they can get between £180 and almost £400 per week.
“Where is the justification in this? Look around Ballymoney to the derelict buildings or the parks and it would be impossible to claim that a good job is being done for the folk of Ballymoney yet we are paying out these allowances and expenses through our rates.”