Council tweaks salary rates, blame changes made by feds

Council vents frustration over the elimination of a tax-exemption benefit to local elected officials

City council has voted to top up salaries for mayor and councillors, blaming changes made by the federal government that eliminated a one-third exemption of personal income tax for municipal elected officials.

The amount of the increase was based on how much was lost due to the changes made in the 2017 federal budget.

Breaking that down, the existing salary for a councillor was $21,176, of which $7,058 was previously tax-free. Going forward, given the changes from the feds, the new salary is $23,700, $2,552 of which was required to compensate for the loss of the tax-exemption status.

For the mayoral position, the existing salary is $58,082, $19,360 of which was previously tax-exempt. Moving forward, $6,999 was added to top up the tax-exempt loss, bringing the new salary to $65,000.

The increases have been included in the 2019-2023 five year financial plan, according to a city staff report.

The vote was nearly unanimous, with councillor Wayne Price the lone holdout against the changes.

Councillor Wes Graham lashed out against the federal government for the elimination of the tax-exemption benefit, accusing the federal Liberals of making municipal officials ‘scapegoats’ by having to make up for the losses.

“Looking at our renumeration, a lot of us, maybe not all of us, budget around what we make and now we’re going to get a drastic increase in taxes and the question begs…I look at it for myself, where do I pick up more hours?” said Graham.

“I work full-time as I can and I do this [council], there’s a ton of meetings and responsibility I do with this, how do I make up that extra money that I didn’t have to budget for before and now I have to try and budget for, because I had that, and now I don’t.

“…This isn’t us just saying, ‘we want more money,’ it’s the fact that we’ve lost money and we’re trying to get it back.”

A city staff report that looked at eight comparable communities noted six of them have made salary increases to compensate for the changes, while two more are currently reviewing the issue.

Mayor Pratt also took umbrage with the feds over the changes.

“The tax benefit wasn’t brought in as a gift to councillors and the mayor,” he said. “What it was brought in for was to compensate us on things that we do outside the normal duties as a mayor and councillor.”

Price, the lone vote against the increase, voiced his opposition to the measure, noting elected officials already receive a two per cent cost-of-living increase as well as a benefit package.

“I’ll be opposed to this motion,” Price said. “Everybody pays taxes on their earnings. It’s really insignificant, the amount, but I think it’s the principle of it. Everybody else in society pays full taxes from what they earn.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local parks, playground equipment remain closed to public, says city

Some people are not socially distancing in local parks, which has caught… Continue reading

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

Cranbrook photographer taking part in Front Porch Project

Kristin Jubinville has raised over $500 for the Cranbrook Food Bank with her project.

Council approves two-month extension for utility bill payments

Cranbrook businesses and residents have an extra two months to make payments… Continue reading

Search and Rescue see 50 per cent call reduction, hope for further decrease

The BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) extended their gratitude to the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

B.C. artist erects 15-foot statue and names it COVID

Decades of collecting spare parts culminated in folk art towering over a country road

B.C. jails grant early release for close to 100 inmates due to COVID-19

The move, which impacts offenders serving intermittent sentences, is to prevent spread of virus

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read