Duncan city council is looking to give itself a pay raise.
Council gave the first three readings to a bylaw at its last council meeting that would see the mayor’s pay in salaries and benefits increase from $28,327 to $31,031 as of Jan. 1, 2019, while councillors’ would jump from $14,092 to $15,862.
As well, from the beginning of 2019 onward, council is also considering having the annual remuneration for council increased by the same percentage as the Consumer Price Index for Victoria for the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of the previous year.
The proposed pay raise comes partly as a result of a new federal rule under which elected members in Canada’s municipalities will soon be required to pay income taxes for the first time on the approximately 30 per cent of their salaries that had been tax-exempt.
A staff report indicates that the main intent of the pay increase is to ensure that the average net take-home pay for council members remains the same after Jan. 1, 2019, when the new federal tax claw back is set to be implemented, as it does today.
The fourth and final reading of the bylaw is expected to be voted on at council’s next meeting on Aug. 20.
In the staff report, Duncan’s director of finance Bernice Crossman said the impact of the tax policy change for individual council members will vary, depending on individual tax brackets.
“Staff has prepared the calculations using the combined federal and provincial tax rate of 22.7 per cent as this is estimated to closely reflect the majority of mayor and council’s individual tax situations,” she said.
Duncan Mayor Phil Kent said the federal government had no substantive consultations with municipalities before putting the new tax policy in place.
“The idea is to have council members’ remuneration adjusted for the new council that will be elected during the municipal elections this fall,” Kent said.
The city usually adjusts the pay of council members on a regular basis by using as a benchmark of council members’ pay in 10 municipalities that have similar populations, per capita spending and economic conditions to Duncan.
Council members in the Municipality of North Cowichan have also raised concerns about the federal tax claw back.
Council decided in April to direct staff to prepare a report, which has yet to be tabled, on the implications of the new policy and make recommendations.
Each councillor in North Cowichan currently makes approximately $21,865 in base salary and benefits per year, while the mayor makes $59,869.