Waters: A raise by any other name would be as steep

Kelowna council says raises for council members will offset federal claw-back of tax-free allowance

So, if the federal government were to change the tax rules tomorrow and the change meant you have to pay more in tax, would your employer make up the difference?

Would you expect your employer to do so?

That’s basically what happened this week at Kelowna City Hall when members of council voted to give themselves hefty raises to compensate for the loss of a longstanding tax break they currently receive on one-third of their pay.

The catch is, to receive the pay hike each member of the current council will have to be re-elected in October’s municipal election as the increase kicks in Jan. 1, 2019.

Council’s decision to have taxpayers make up for the “pay cut” they say they’ll face as a result of Ottawa’s change stemmed from a city finance department reccomendation.

Starting next year, Kelowna’s mayor will receive an extra $11,830 per year and councillors will get $3,050 more. The increases will push up the amount the mayor gets to just under $107,000 per year and the amount councillors get to $36,500.

But should council members be the ones to vote themselves more money?

On Monday, during the discussion at an open council meeting, several councillors stressed the salary bump was not a pay increase but simply off-set the loss of the tax break.

And, that age-old attempt to justify higher wages was trotted out—if you don’t pay people enough, you won’t attract good people.

But the folks who currently sit on council would no doubt consider themselves pretty good—they are running for re-election after all—and they ran last time for knowing they were to be paid less money than they are now receiving.

And that’s the key. If you know how much a job pays—and everyone will prior to the Oct. 20 municipal election—then the choice to seek office is yours.

Whether you agree or disagree with Ottawa’s move, it’s not like anyone is having something taken away.

The change will only impact the folks who are elected, or re-elected, in October. That could be incumbents or newly elected folks but either way they will be members of a new city council.

Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for a break the federal government giveth, and then taketh away.

The break was meant to cover expenses associated with elected officials’ duties and that is admirable. So why not just have the politicians submit receipts for a credit at tax time or for reimbursement?

Because the optics of politicians giving themselves a raise—no matter what spin they put on it—are never good.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Central Okanagan firefighters are battling wildfires across B.C.

Lake Country, Kelowna and Peachland crews are assisting the BC Wildfire Service

Oktopus to headline Music in the Park

The West Kelowna night of music will happen once again this Friday

Long-awaited John Hindle Drive in Kelowna just weeks away from completion

Ministry of Transportation says it plans to have the road open before the start of the school year

Blasting begins at Beachview Drive in West Kelowna

Blasting begins as part of residential development

Updated: RCMP no longer suspect death of Vernon woman is suspicious

West Kelowna RCMP continue to investigate the woman’s sudden death

A first-hand look at hazards facing scooter users

A Salmon Arm reporter tags along on a mobility scooter tour of the city to learn about safety hazards

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Man found not guilty in 2011 drug-related shooting in Shuswap

Judge rules Jeremy Davis couldn’t foresee his companion would kill 24-year-old Nick Larsen.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

Parks Canada has ‘general concept’ in mind for South Okanagan-Similkameen

Minister Catherine McKenna will be providing a further update to representatives in Penticton Friday, August 17

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Most Read