Esquimalt council will look to an independent third party to review their remuneration ahead of the 2018 civic election, after the federal government announced changes to the tax policy for elected municipal officials. Photo courtesy of Esquimalt Township

Third party review to assess Esquimalt council’s remuneration

Tax break eliminated by federal government shifts cost to municipality, says councillor

Esquimalt council will look to an independent third party consultant in January to review whether a realignment is necessary for their salaries.

The question of remuneration is on the table in response to a decision made by the federal government last March to end a tax exemption for municipal elected officials. Since 1947, under the federal Income Tax Act, one-third of an official’s income was collected tax-free, a nod to expenses related to the duties of the position.

According to the 2016 Statement of Financial Information from the Township of Esquimalt, Mayor Barb Desjardins’ remuneration was $48,225.20. Each of the six councillors collected $20,779.60 for their service.

At the Dec. 11 council meeting, Coun. Susan Low – who will not be running in next October’s municipal election – voiced support for the review.

“This is downloading tax burden onto the local government level,” Low said, stressing she doesn’t want the federal government to think it can do so without anyone taking notice.

To maintain the mayor and councillors’ current remuneration, council will consider raises to offset losses now that the entire salary from the Township is taxable.

Coun. Olga Liberchuk also supported the motion, saying people need to be compensated appropriately for the work they do.

“We just to make sure … that we ensure we attract candidates from all walks of life with various incomes, and that it’s not just reserved for people who are privileged enough to be able to afford a low wage at the council table,” she said.

In Langley, a similar review was conducted before council voted unanimously to increase the mayor’s remuneration by 11 per cent in 2019, while councillors will receive a salary that is 45 per cent of the mayor’s.

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