Council remuneration is getting what the Mayor called an overdue boost.
Village of Lumby councillors supported increasing remuneration for all paid members of council at the regular Dec. 10 meeting.
“They needed a significant increase,” said Mayor Kevin Acton. “It’s really hard to put a number to what we do. It’s really an honorarium.”
Beginning in January 2019, the Mayor’s remuneration will increase to $16,450 from $13,035 and councillors will be bumped up to $8,755 from $1,849 for increases of $3,415 and $1,849 respectively.
The need for the increase is twofold. Acton noted that raises haven’t occurred in several years and, as such, salaries have fallen behind the steady Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase as well as the need to compensate for Canada Revenue Agency’s decision to remove the one third salary tax exemption benefit previously available to politicians in any level of government.
In a report to council, Melanie Wenzoski, manager of administration, said the tax exemption on one third of the remuneration paid sought to “cover incidental expenses in the discharge or operation of their duties without submitting receipts as allowed by the Federal Income Tax Act. It has been understood that in the carrying out of these duties, there are expenses that are not easily accountable and so an exemption has been given.”
Council heard that most Okanagan municipalities and regional districts addressed this change by increasing salaries.
However, Acton stressed that the removal of the salary tax exemption benefit is only one factor in the equation.
“We hope growth and adding CPI to the budget every year will keep us up,” Acton said. “Hopefully we won’t have to do a big hike again.”
While increasing remuneration was before the previous council, Acton said that councillors opted to hold off until after the 2018 municipal election.
“I think that’s more fair. If you’re going to give yourself a raise, you should stick around to defend it,” he said.
Staff compared Lumby’s past remuneration to 13 communities of a similar size including 100 Mile House, Ashcroft, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Fruitvale, Keremeos, Lions Bay, Logan Lake, Nakusp, Taylor, Tumbler Ridge, Enderby and Sicamous. Of the compared communities, Tumbler Ridge boasted the highest remuneration for mayors at $28,000 compared to Keremeos’ $10,841. Tumbler Ridge also has the highest salary for councillors at $18,000 compared to Fruitvale’s $6,355.
Lumby’s new remuneration took the average from all compared communities.