The District of Kent council chambers. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Kent council to get 10 per cent pay increase

The raise comes after Canada announced it would no longer provide income tax exemptions to officials

The District of Kent’s mayor and council will be getting a pay increase, as they voted to up their remuneration following an independent review Monday (Jan. 28).

The mayor will now be receiving an annual salary of $39,074 and councillors will receive $18,499 a year, up from $33,239 and $15,736 respectively.

The review comes after the federal government decision to remove the tax exemption for elected municipal officials.

Previously, this exemption would have meant one-third of the money paid to an elected official was not included in their income tax. With the tax exemption being removed in January 2019, officials would now have to pay more income tax.

“The reality is, when council performs work for the community, it compensates the loss of wages in their personal livelihood or in their business,” Tony Stoeckly, one of the members of the independent committee that looked at Kent’s remuneration, said.

The three-person committee decided that council should get a 10 per cent increase to their remuneration to balance the changes that would be made to their after-tax income.

Council had not received a pay raise since 2015, when it was decided the mayor would get $33,239 a year and councillors would get $15,736.

RELATED: District Council votes in a pay raise

Over the course of the review, the committee looked at other B.C. municipalities to see how the District of Kent’s remuneration compared.

Before the recommended increases, the District of Kent had the fourth highest paid mayor and councillors of the eight municipalities examined. Only Peachland, Fernie and Trail mayors made more, while Peachland, Fernie and Castlegar councillors made more.

(These eight municipalities included Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Revelstoke, Castlegar, Fernie, Peachland and Trail, as they were similar in size or located close to the district.)

The recommended increases would put the district in the second highest spot for both mayor and councillors, however, this does not take into account any changes made in those other municipalities after 2018.

Future increases for Kent council should be based on the consumer price index, Stoeckly said.

“We felt the consumer price index should be used and included to affect the yearly inflation rate of council remuneration,” Stoeckly explained.

“If you had that, you wouldn’t have to go through this procedure every three or four years,” he added. “It’s a very sensitive topic for every councillor to do, to vote for his own remunerations. We felt that it’s a fair deal.”

Council voted in favour of this adjustment. Coun. Duane Post was absent from the meeting.

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