Council adjusts pay to compensate for federal tax exemption removal

By Tyler Marr
August 9, 2018 - 2:00pm

Following a move by the federal government to eliminate a one-third non-taxable allowance for municipal officials, Prince Albert's city councillors have voted to adjust their pay to ensure it remains the same.

Prince Albert lawmakers are not alone in the move, after Ottawa nixed a rule which allowed councillors and mayors across Canada to effectively declare a third of their salaries as a tax-free allowance in lieu of claiming expenses in their 2017 budget. The change will come into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

As the change will reduce the net indemnity payments to elected lawmakers, it was suggested the payments be adjusted so salaries remain close to current amounts. The move will cost Prince Albert taxpayers $38,000 and was approved unanimously. Each councillor took home between $29,800 and $32,750 in 2017, while Mayor Greg Dionne saw just over $90,000.

Dionne accused the federal government of not handling the situation well. Despite the rules being ushered through in 2017, he said cities across the country were not informed of the change until the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) meeting in Halifax earlier this summer.

“There was no consulting; they just made the decision,” Dionne said. “It seems to be the play of the government game on all levels now to download [costs onto cities].”

Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody was equally unimpressed with the feds and maintained the move was unfair. He said both the FCM and Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association vocalized their discontent to the finance minister, but it fell on deaf ears.

“We have to increase our pay and who do you think pays it? It is the public, not the government,” Cody said. “It appears as though we are giving ourselves a raise when that is not the fact at all.”

 

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