Friday, April 20, 2018

Will Prince Rupert City Council join the moves to address lost tax exemption money on civic salaries?

Federal Tax Changes have made
for a topic of debate for many
BC City Councils
A move by the Federal government to eliminate a tax break for those that are elected to local office, has made the topic of municipal compensation a fairly vigorous conversation theme across the province in the last few months.

The change to the Federal tax process will see elected officials lose the opportunity to claim one third of their income as tax free, a provision of elected office that few outside of government probably even knew existed.

A number of communities have decided to ensure that their elected officials don't lose that income, by increasing their ompensation packages, though the way that some municipalities have handled the issue has made the entire discussion somewhat controversial.

As each Council looks at the issue there have been some concerns being heard that the process hasn't been particularly transparent and one which hasn't provided for any consultation with the public.

So far, the topic does not appear to have come up at Prince Rupert City Council, at least by way of any public session discussion at City Hall.

The only time that compensation has come up this year in a public session of Council, came in February during a Committee of the Whole session, which saw a Prince Rupert resident inquire about the status of Mayor Lee Brain's salary top up through the Legacy Fund.

At the February session, Mr. Brain advised that the additional pay for the Mayor's salary would have a sunset date of December 31st, adding that it will be up to the next Council, which will be elected in October to determine if that additional stipend will continue into 2019.

Some  background on last years salary review for Prince Rupert City Council can be examined here.

The next update to that report will come later this summer, when the City of Prince Rupert releases its annual Statement of Information report on municipal compensation, that report is expected sometime in June.

How the compensation debate has played out in a number of other British Columbia communities could be a helpful tutorial for Prince Rupert Council, particularly when it comes to the theme of  salaries and benefits for municipal officials.

As we get closer to the October election, it might also be helpful for the city's voters to have some idea how the current Council and the School Board members (the latter also impacted by the Federal tax change issue) may view the change in the Federal tax legislation and how they believe that the city and School District should approach the issue.

That way, everyone will be on the same page as the election campaigning gets underway in the run up to this Fall's municipal and School Board election.

If the elected officials really want to gauge how the public might view the topic of salary and remuneration, they could always put the topic up as a referendum option.

Something that would allow the public to decide what, if any measures may be required to address the loss of the tax free element of elected public service, or any future top ups for the top elected office at City Hall.

Some notes on the discussion around the province can be found below:

April 7 -- What they were thinking?: Metro Vancouver politician show the perils of setting your own salary
April 5 -- Metro director retirement benefit, pay raise discussed in camera
April 4 -- Metro board to 'reconsider' pay raise, retirement allowance
April 4 -- Metro Vancouver Chair Greg Moore says board will revisit controversial retirement allowances
April 3 -- Metro Vancouver Board to reconsider retirement benefit, pay adjustment
April 3 -- Metro Vancouver Board to reconsider $15k retirement allowance

March 30 -- 'This item was not on the agenda': West Van Mayor angered at Metro Board retirement allowance
March 30 -- Metro Vancouver directors' retirement allowances rankles West Vancouver mayor
March 28 -- 'That's part of our responsibilities': Metro Vancouver board chair defends self-assigned raise
March 28 -- Metro vote gives more money to pols
March 15 -- Saanich councillors sharpen knives for budget deliberations
March 6 -- Time to review Prince George City council's pay

February 19 -- Prince George City council pay under review
February 16 -- Nelson to review city council pay levels
February 9 -- Central Saanich councillors settle on salaries
February 3 -- Central Saanich council salaries to be decided on Monday

January 3 -- New year brings raise in pay for Kelowna City Council

For more items related to Prince Rupert City Council see our are Council Discussion archive here.

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