Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick says he is disgusted by the federal government’s decision to eliminate elected officials’ one-third-tax-free allowance, stating that it is unfair to taxpayers.
Currently, elected officials receive an allowance for expenses of one-third of their remuneration on a tax-free basis. This will be eliminated in 2019 due to a change in the federal tax legislation. The full amount of Council remuneration will now be subject to income tax at their personal tax rate.
Council voted on Monday, Dec. 10 to have City staff prepare a bylaw that will see Council receive compensation at an additional 12 per cent in recognition of the tax implications imposed by the elimination of the tax-free allowance.
“This is not a pay increase,” said McCormick. “The federal government has seen fit to claw back this benefit to help pay for, I think, what most would see as outlandish spending. The taxpayer does not get a break in this transaction. The feds are downloading this to the municipality and forcing us to absorb their cut by increasing expenses at the municipal level.”
He adds that this will simply offset the loss in taxable benefit, and that Mayor and Council will “not receive a penny more” than what they are currently receiving.
“Taxpayers should object to the Federal government for what is clearly disrespecting our local government and others throughout the country. I am completely dumbfounded that they’ve gotten away with a free pass on this,” said the Mayor. “…I think the whole thing is disgusting, personally, but this is the right thing to do not just for us but for subsequent elections when we’re trying to encourage people to make that step to run for elected office.”
Councillor Sandra Roberts agreed, saying there are a number of issues as a result of the federal government’s decision.
“I thought it was very interesting to discover that we’re only in the 83 percentile of communities our size. We’re not being payed in the way other communities our size are paying their councillors,” said Roberts. “I agree the idea is to make us whole so that we’re not out of pocket.”
Councillor Kyle Dalum, who voted against the motion, says the decision has him frustrated.
“I’m stuck in a dichotomy where I believe that Council and Mayor are worth the extra 12 per cent that the government is trying to take away, and the other side of me says that I would rather drop the wage down so that they [the federal government] are not making any more off of this community,” he said. “It’s pure frustration on my part.”
Councillor Jason McBain says that the appreciates the transparency among Mayor and Council and agrees with all of the points made in Council chambers with regards to the discussion.
“I think I can live with the 12 per cent to make us whole,” said Councillor Kent Goodwin. “I think we have a hard time arguing that if we only are at the 85th or 86th percentile of community our size; we had 15 people run for Council last year and obviously they feel we’re not in an adequate spot.”
Finally, Councillor Darryl Oakley, who also voted against the motion, says it’s unfair to the taxpayers.
“I really struggled with this, I just can’t stick it to the taxpayers like that,” he said. “Even though the feds are downloading this, it goes through us and through City Hall and right to the taxpayers. It’s a tiny, tiny amount, but it bugs me that this is how it unfolds.
“Even though I have to put gas in my truck like everybody else, the taxpayers are always taking the hit. It’s just one thing after another, and I don’t want this to be just one more thing that they have to get hit with. I don’t support this.”