Langley school trustees have approved pay increases for themselves that will raise their salaries between 18 per cent and 20 per cent late this year, followed by another increase early next year that will see compensation rise another 10 to 11 per cent to make up for the loss of a federal tax exemption.
The changes will raise trustee compensation to $28,000 a year, with the board chair and vice-chair making more.
A proposal that would have automatically adjusted trustee salaries every year in the future based on the Statistics Canada Consumer Price Index (CPI) was defeated at the Tuesday night board meeting.
The increases were proposed by a committee of three members of the community who were not directly affiliated with the School District.
The hikes were based on a comparison with other school districts, and calculated according to the number of students in the district.
Some of the increase was in response to the elimination of a one-third tax-free expense allowance for local elected officials.
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 exemption is gone as of Jan. 1, 2019.
Several municipalities, such as Langley City, have hiked pay rates for mayors and councillors to compensate.
Board vice-chair Megan Dykeman said setting salaries was a “very awkward situation,” but it was better to have the outgoing board in this election year deal with it rather than require newly elected elected trustees to handle it.
“It’s an uncomfortable situation,” trustee David Tod said.
While both pay hikes passed, the proposal that would make the process automatic based on the inflation rate was rejected.
“We don’t have that for any our staff, ” Trustee Rod Ross said.
Dykeman argued for the annual adjustment as “a more logical and measured approach.”
Salary debate starts at 58:33 mark of video:
Trustee Indemnity Adjustment (figures provided by school district):
Current salary trustee: $21,485
Current salary vice-chair: $22,485
Current salary chair: $23,485
Effective December 2018:
This amounts to an increase of 19.6 per cent for trustees, 18.7 per cent for vice-chair and 17.9 per cent for the chair.
Effective January 2019:
This amounts to an increase of 10.9 per cent for trustees, 10.5 per cent for vice-chair and 10.1 per cent for the chair.