Maple Ridge council: (from left) Craig Speirs, Gordy Robson, Kiersten Duncan, Nicole Read, Corisa Bell, Tyler Shymkiw and Bob Masse. (Contributed)

News Views: Whole now

Maple Ridge council’s salaries “increase” more than 20% in response to changes in federal tax laws.

Maple Ridge council voted unanimously Tuesday to increase the salaries for mayor and council by more than 20 per cent, to off-set a “reduction” in their after-tax income.

The decision was in response to changes in federal tax laws, and members of council made sure to point a finger in that direction before voting on the change, which will affect the incoming council.

As part of the 2017 federal budget, Ottawa decided to peel back a tax break for certain politicians.

A change in the Income Tax Act comes into effect on Jan. 1, eliminating a provision that allowed elected officials to have one-third of their income tax exempt.

Specific employment expenses, filed with receipts, will remain non-taxable.

The measure affects elected members of provincial and territorial legislatures, as well as municipalities, including school boards, although some city governments in Canada, Calgary being one, got rid of such exemptions a decade ago.

Maple Ridge council’s audit and finance committee recommended that the mayor’s salary “increase” by 24 per cent to $114,250, and councillors by 23 per cent to $45,700, effective Jan. 1, 2019, to “mitigate the impact of the reduction.”

The base salary for a councillor will be set at 40 per cent of that for mayor.

Effective June 1, 2017 the mayor’s salary was $92,310, and councillors $37,285.

The cost to the city will be a budget adjustment of $55,000 in 2019.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is happy the tax exemption was removed, as it was a disservice in explaining how much money politicians actually make.

The hidden allowance, it has said, boosted some incomes by up to $30,000 a year.

A nice perk to cover the expenses of public service.

But, as noted by Maple Ridge council, sometimes politicians have to drive to meetings.

Now that it has agreed to the pay increase, voters have the transparency they deserve.

And for that you can thank the federal government.

It’s a clearer way to show what a council member makes, with benefits, and the amount is fully taxable.

The municipal election is in October.

Run. Or don’t.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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