Kelowna city council has voted to give itself a raise to offset the impending federal government claw-back of a tax free allowance municipal politicians currently enjoy.
On Monday, council approved an $11,830 raise for the mayor and a $3,050 raise for each councillor after city staff told it the change by the federal government will mean a pay cut for council members.
But there is a catch.
As Coun Gail Given pointed out, in order to receive the pay hike, current members of council will have to be re-elected in October’s municipal election as the increase will not kick in until Jan. 1, 2019.
The extra money would offset the impact of additional taxes and deductions council members will have to pay as a result of Ottawa eliminating the tax-free allowance that now covers one-third of their city salaries.
The allowance is supposed to cover expenses council members incur as part of their council work.
Currently, Mayor Colin Basran receives $95,695 per year, while each of his councillors gets $33,493 per year.
In approving the increase—which will being the mayor’s annual salary to just over $106,000 and the salary for each councillor to just under $36,500—Coun. Mohini Singh said the additional money should not be viewed as a pay hike, but rather keeping council pay at the level it is now because the tax-free allowance is being eliminated.
The increase was proposed by the city’s finance department, which looked at what other B.C. municipalities are doing to deal with the federal elimination of the tax-free allowance and found most were also increase salaries.
Coun. Luke Stack said he liked the move, adding he was never comfortable with the one-third tax-free allowance because he never spend one-third of his council pay on expenses.
“I wish this had been done 10 years ago,” said the veteran member of Kelowna council.
The federal government announced the end to the tax-free allowance for municipal council members and school district trustees in its 2017 budget. The move also takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.
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