Below is the reply to Dail question, as to the cost of holding a referendum and comments by the Minister for Finance as to holding multiple question referenda. As is obvious, it is cheaper per question to hold many questions than to have a series of questions. But the cost of each additional question would appear to be the postal expenses and the Referendum Commission (how can they be so high?). I assume that multiple question referenda will have only one ballot paper, to reduce the cost of printing the ballots.
But to contrast those costs, with one referendum to reduce the pay of the Judiciary.
Nominally it would save 5.5m p.a. from the Jugdes' pay bill, as 38,000 per judge is reduced. Except of course, at least 5 out of 7 Judges have already volunteered to take such a pay cut, so the saving is already built in. In addition, as the State collects tax on this sums at 52%, the saving for 35 judges who have not taken the cuts is:
(38,000 x35)48%= 638,400. It is not an inconsiderable sum, but if all new judges start on lower pay and the expenses regime is tackled, there would be far greater savings than the net benefit from holding a referendum.
The Government also plans to have a Constitutional Commission to consider other Constitutional amendments. Some would be beyond price-taggery such as removing the embarrassment that is the Preamble, providing for marriage equality and reducing the number of TDs, but are some of the other proposed referenda just not worth the bother, time, distraction and above all, money?
Dαil Ιireann - 29/Jun/2011 Written Answers No. 62-75 - Departmental Expenditure66. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of holding a referendum or multiple referenda [17965/11]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan) (Deputy Michael Noonan): The following table gives the cost of the two most recent referendums: Lisbon 1, 12 June 2008 and Lisbon 2, 2 October 2009.
Lisbon I Lisbon II
To conduct the election including the
printing of ballot papers and supply/delivery
of election material the bulk of this figure is
paid to Returning Officers to conduct the election. 13,641 12,662
Postal Expenses 3,540 1,703
Referendum Commission 4,990 3,096
Total Cost 22,171 17,461
The holding of a multiple question referendum would entail additional costs. Each question would entail a separate Referendum Commission and additional costs for conducting the count. There may be some economies of scale in procurement terms; the cost of a referendum commission is directly related to the complexity of the referendum proposal and the nature and scale of the information campaign necessary to ensure that the public are informed of the proposal. While it would not be possible at present to accurately calculate this additional cost, economies of scale and the fact that many costs would not be duplicated, would indicate that additional costs would be far less than for separate referendums.