Pitt Meadows council approved increases in remuneration for mayor and councillors on Tuesday in part in reaction to federal tax changes.
The mayor’s current annual salary of $75,414 will rise to $97,730, for an increase of $22,316.
Councillors salaries will rise to $39,092 from $28,280, for an increase of $10,812 each.
Increases are retroactive to Jan. 1.
Prior to January, a third of the total remuneration received by municipal-elected officials throughout Canada was not subject to tax or source deductions, according to a report from a task force on council pay.
This change resulted in a decrease of approximately 14 per cent in take-home pay.
“However, the 2017 federal budget contained provisions to require that non-accountable allowances paid to elected officials be brought into income for 2019 and later years,” says the task force report.
Pitt Meadows’ council remuneration had not been formally reviewed since 2007.
Council adopted the recommendations of Council Remuneration Citizen Task Force. It was formed at council’s direction on Nov. 13, 2018, with the mandate to conduct a comprehensive review.
Task force spokesperson Kit Oye presented council with its recommendations.
Oye explained the task force linked council members’ base compensation to voters’ employment income and set a councillor pay at 70 per cent of the median income of a full-time worker in the region.
The mayor’s pay is to be set at 2.5 times a council member’s base rate.
The base rate is to be adjusted in future years according to the Vancouver Consumer Price Index.
The total cost of implementing the recommendations is an increase of $90,110 for council remuneration. Of that, $39,000 is due to the federal tax change, explained CAO Mark Roberts.
In future, the city will form a new citizen task force two months prior to elections to review council pay.
Coun. Gwen O’Connell said she would have preferred the previous council set the rate for incoming councils.
“When you do it yourselves, when you’re voting on your own raise, it reflects very poorly on you,” she said.
O’Connell noted the public expects councillors to be more responsive today.
Former mayor Don MacLean spoke against the increases, saying he often wondered why the federal tax exemption for councillors existed.
He referred to “non-accountable items” such as coffee with a citizen or luncheon at a Rotary club as expenses that were intended to be offset by the tax break.
“When I was mayor, I would be hard pressed to spend anywhere close to $10,000 in the run of a year, buying half the citizens of our community coffee …” said MacLean.
He added that he always paid for his spouse’s entire bill when she attended dinners or conventions with him.
“We’re there to do the business of the community, not for the business of the events in the evening and the cocktail parties and so on,” he added.