City council is supportive of a proposed increase to a “computer allowance,” from $1,000 to $2,500, for the four-year term to cover both the cost of a device (computer/laptop/pad) as well as other technology-related expenses such as cell phone bills. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Council supports pay increase to compensate for loss of tax allowance

Proposed remumeration raise to make up for loss of one-third taxation exemption

Salmon Arm’s mayor and council are supporting a boost to their pay to compensate for a tax-free allowance the federal government will be eliminating in 2019.

Under current federal tax regulation, up to one-third of remuneration for elected officials is tax free. With this coming to an end in the new year, Salmon Arm council asked staff to provide a report with a “recommended increase to overall council remuneration so that the net take home pay would remain approximately the same.”

What council received and voted in favour of was a suggested 13.5 per cent increase for the mayor (up from $56,734 to $64,393) and 11.5 per cent increase for the deputy mayor and council ($23,506 to $26,210 for deputy mayor and $22,873 to $25,503 for council). These increases will cost the city $28,000 – equal to a 0.16 per cent tax increase.

Related: CSRD board approves pay increase for directors

Coun. Kevin Flynn explained how the one-third tax-free allowance assisted the mayor and council with costs related to such things as the use of personal vehicles to attend numerous meetings.

“I don’t think we should be penalized for a tax change and… I think, we’ve spent a lot of time determining fair compensation,” commented Flynn. “It’s never really fun to vote on your own compensation, but I think this is a very fair way to handle the tax change.”

Only Coun. Sylvia Lindgren voted against the increase.

“In being brand new to this, I understand, I think, what people are saying, but… I can’t support this only because I don’t feel comfortable voting for my own wage four weeks after I got elected,” said Lindgren.

City staff also presented a proposal to increase the provision for council to purchase a laptop or mobile device upon which to view council agendas from $1,000 to $2,000. However, council was more amenable to a motion put forward by Coun. Chad Eliason to increase that amount to $2,500, for the four-year term.

Flynn suggested this not be thought of as a computer allowance, but as a technology allowance that would also help compensate the mayor and council for cell phone use.

Coun. Tim Lavery said that even the amount proposed doesn’t cover his own cell phone costs related to city/council business.

“I think it makes a move to increasing the compensation for what we need to spend to do our business and I think it’s a reasonable amount,” said Lavery.

Lindgren said she could support this increase.

“In my position as a union president, we get $65 a month to cover our cell phone… and that doesn’t even cover buying it – just having it hooked up every month – and that works out to about $3,100 over four years, so this is still below that amount and $65 a month seems pretty reasonable to me,” said Lindgren.

Council will have to adopt amendment bylaws for both of the above changes to be enacted.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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