Council pay cuts – raise

Chris Clegg
For the Lakeside Leader

Turns out Big Lakes County council did get a recent raise in pay, contrary to a statement made by one of its councillors at a May 13 meeting.

Council was discussing a proposed 10 per cent pay cut suggested by North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Ken Matthews when South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart spoke.

“We haven’t had a raise in seven years,” Stewart said.

South Peace News received an anonymous tip to look into the matter and found that council did increase their monthly honourarium at a meeting just last year on Jan. 23, 2019.

At the meeting, council passed a motion to increase the monthly allowance for the reeve to $1,550 from $1,200, for the deputy reeve to $1,250 from $900 and for councillors to $1,150 from $800.

In essence, an increase in pay of $350 a month for each councillor [$4,200 a year], or $37,800 per year for all of council.

Council decided to raise their pay after the federal government eliminated the preferential tax deduction available to elected officials.

The federal deduction formerly allowed up to one-third of a councillor’s pay to be paid out as a reimbursement of expenses, rather than taxable income. In short, all income was now taxable.

“In order for the average after-tax impact for councillors to be eliminated, council would need to be paid an additional $4,200 for annually before tax or $350 more each month,” said Heather Nanninga, director of corporate services, at the meeting.

In the end, what the federal government took from council, they merely recouped from Big Lakes County taxpayers.

At the May 13 meeting, no councillor or administration reminded Stewart about the raise in pay.

South Peace News sent e-mails to all councillors inviting them to respond.

Only Prairie Echo – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx responded, confirming the pay raise, but said he forgot.

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