Will Saanich council follow the Capital Regional District in raising remuneration rates to compensate for federal tax changes?

Will Saanich council follow the Capital Regional District in raising remuneration rates to compensate for federal tax changes?

Looming tax changes could bring pay hike for Saanich councillors

Will Saanich council raise remuneration rates?

That is one of the looming questions as council is set to consider the effects of federal tax code changes.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, the federal government will start to tax non-accountable allowances of certain municipal officers including mayors and councillors for work-related expenses as income.

According to the federal government, non-accountable allowances constitute allowances for which eligible employees and elected officials in certain categories do not have to provide details or submit receipts to justify paid amounts.

Specifically, they do not need to include this allowance on their respective income tax forms if the expense allowance does not up to no more than one third of their salaries. But this exemption will expire early next year under changes approved in 2017.

This exemption has historically made up one third of council’s total remuneration. In 2016, expense allowances accounted for $138,432 of the $415,299 total remuneration that members of Saanich council received.

Ottawa’s decision to eliminate the exemption has already had local consequences as directors of the Capital Regional District (CRD) approved a singular raise of up to 14 per cent in remuneration rates earlier this month.

Citing financial concerns, Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell was the lone director to vote against the measure, which will apply to future not current CRD directors.

The CRD board of directors also includes four other members of Saanich council: Couns. Susan Brice, Judy Brownoff, Colin Plant and Dean Murdock. All but Murdock will run again for municipal office, but it is of course not clear whether they will return to the CRD board.

Saanich’s finance committee is scheduled to take up the issue at its meeting June 11, with council set to receive a report with recommendations at a later date.