Mayor for your money: lord mayor of Dublin Emer Costello with Taoiseach Brian Cowen

The Lord Mayor of Dublin city and the chairmen of the capital's three local authorities will continue to exist next year even after the election of a new mayor by the people of the city and county. The five-mayor arrangement – the brainchild of Green Party leader John Gormley – will cost about €500,000 annually and has been condemned by the chairman of Dublin City Council's finance committee as an "absolute and utter waste of money".

The position of elected mayor – which former taoiseach Bertie Ahern is favourite to win – was announced by Gormley earlier this year, and is expected to carry the same €225,000 salary as that of a government minister.

However, the Sunday Tribune has learned that the position of lord mayor, who receives an annual allowance of €70,000, will continue to function. That payment supplements the cost of running the lord mayor's office and the Mansion House in Dublin city centre, which will continue as the official residence of the lord mayor.

On top of this, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council pay allowances to their chairmen and women, who are referred to as mayors. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council still refers to its head as 'Cathaoirleach', effectively the same position.

Although Gormley has championed the elected mayor as a broadening of local democracy, it remains unclear exactly how that office and the offices of lord mayor and cathaoirleach will interact, and who will perform key civic functions.

It is accepted that the lord mayor of Dublin will remain in the Mansion House as head of the city council. Arrangements for the newly elected office have yet to be announced.

Last May, Gormley said the new office would hold similar powers to the mayor of London and, crucially, that it would oversee the implementation of strategies by the four local authorities.

But there are concerns the central roles of mayor and lord mayor will clash dramatically. "I think it will lead to conflict and you will have handbags at dawn, arguing about who is in charge of what and who is opening what," said Sinn Féin councillor Killian Forde, head of the council's finance committee, which overlooks expenditure by the authority.

"You are going to have a clash of parties and personalities. The good side of this is that it will actually give Dublin a face but the problem is if you have five people saying they are the head honchos in a certain area, I think that just causes confusion.

"Each local authority needs a chairman and that is not in dispute. What I find inappropriate is that there are so many bells and whistles attached to each position, which means that they get extra money for doing all this."

Cllr Forde has called for a cap of €100,000 on the proposed salary for the new position and a reduction in the cost of other mayoral positions in the county.

Apart from a salary of €225,195, the costs of running a newly elected mayor's office remains unclear, with details still being worked out.

The current lord mayor of Dublin, Cllr Emer Costello, receives an allowance of €69,539 on top of the regular councillor's annual allowance of €17,604, which applies to all existing mayors.

A full-time driver is available during normal working hours. There are two drivers who work on alternate weeks at a cost of around €30,700 annually, before overtime.

The mayor is provided with a free black Mercedes E220, which is not paid for by the taxpayer. A spokeswoman explained that, as well as Mercedes, lords mayors had been provided with Renaults and Volvos in the past due to varying deals sought by council officials.

A photographer, who officially works for Dublin City Council but who is based in the Mansion House and does a lot of work for the mayor, costs about €30,000 a year plus overtime.

The Mansion House employs a house steward and an assistant house steward who between them attend the house, answer the door and act as a security presence at an annual cost of around €29,000 before overtime.

The cost of civic receptions and functions last year was just €3,623 but this varies considerably from year to year.

The council was keen to stress that money is not wasted on staff or operations at the Mansion House and that costs were kept to a minimum.

Vincent Norton, executive manager at Dublin City Council said: "We operate it on the basis of value for money. It provides a good service for the city of Dublin and we do welcome dignitaries into the city and you have to give a good image.

"We are looking at enhancing the house to mark the 300 years it's been in the possession of the city, in 2015.

"We have developed a conservative plan with regard to energy conservation issues and the fabric of the house. But obviously funding is an issue in this because we don't have the money but we are going to try and source it from Europe and the government."

The other councils cost considerably less to run in the context of their mayors.

Outside Dublin City Council, the highest paid mayor is Fingal County Council's Cllr Ciaran Byrne, who receives almost €56,000, including a general allowance and costs for entertainment and travel.

South Dublin County Council's mayor, Cllr Mick Duff, receives a taxable allowance of €45,000 and a car allowance of €6,000.

In Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Cllr Marie Baker's duties are the same as her counterparts, including donning the traditional chains associated with mayoralty. She is in receipt of just over €35,000.

All four council mayors also receive the €17,604 allowance they are entitled to as elected representatives.

* THE office of Mayor of Dublin was created in June 1229 by Prince Henry III.

* The office of Mayor was elevated to Lord Mayor in 1665 by King Charles II

* Before 1840, the Lord Mayor was selected through a complicated method by the City Assembly. In 1840 this was reformed

* Notable mayors of the city include Daniel O'Connell (1841-42, RIGHT), Tim Sullivan (1886-88), Tim Harrington (1901-04), Alfie Byrne (1930-39, 1954-55), Bertie Ahern (1986-87), Carmencita Hederman (1987-88) and Royston Brady (2003-04)