Langley City Council has approved policy changes that will mean pay hikes for the mayor and council in response to a federal decision to eliminate a tax break for municipal officials and what was described as the increasing amount of time required to do the job.
The changes will mean an increase in the mayor’s remuneration from $84,600 in 2017 to $99,533 in 2019.
Councillors remuneration will rise from $33,841 in 2017 to $49,717 in 2019.
“It’s never easy for a council to approve your own stipend increase,” said mayor Ted Schaffer.
“But the time requirement to be a mayor or councillor has changed quite a bit over the past few years.”
Schaffer said present-day councils are dealing with health issues, drug issues, the opioid crisis, and transportation concerns “not to mention the general expectations from the public in making the city a great city.”
“This has increased the time requirement to manage city affairs a lot,” the mayor said.
“I know it’s never easy, we’ll probably get criticized but there’s a lot of work this council does in the community.”
The increases, unanimously approved at the Dec. 4 council meeting, will change the formula used to calculate the mayor’s annual remuneration from 85 per cent of the median amount of other mayor’s salaries in the Lower Mainland to 92.5 per cent in 2018, and 100 per cent in 2019 and thereafter.
In 2019, an 11 per cent increase for the mayor, for one year, will be introduced to compensate for the tax effect of the removal of the one-third non-accountable allowance by the federal government.
Councillor’s annual remuneration will be based on 45 per cent of the mayor’s annual remuneration.
In the 2017 federal budget, the government announced the tax break would be removed, saying the tax exemptions for non-accountable expense allowances “is only available to certain provincial, territorial and municipal office holders, and provides an advantage that other Canadians do not enjoy.”
The one-third tax-free expense allowance was introduced in 1947 under the federal Income Tax Act to provide “an allowance for expenses incidental to the discharge of the person’s duties as an elected officer.”
“Those tax changes are just coming down from them, down to lower levels, and we’re the lowest level,” mayor Schaffer said.
In 2020, the mayor’s remuneration will be reviewed, and if the other Metro Vancouver communities also increase their mayors’ remuneration to compensate for the tax effect of the removal of the 1/3 non-accountable allowance the 11 per cent increase awarded in 2019 will no longer be necessary.
The changes come after City council hired an independent consultant to review the Council remuneration and how it compares to other municipalities in the region.
The consultant found that the Federal Government decision to eliminate the one-third non- accountable allowance for elected officials would mean all the remuneration provided by the City would now be taxable.
As a result, the Mayor’s remuneration would need to increase 11 per cent to keep the same net pay he had before the federal government’s change.
READ MORE: The Langleys: who made what