By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board of directors turned down an 11.2 per cent pay hike for itself today (July 19, 2018).
The increase was proposed to make up for the elimination of a tax break for civic politicians. Up until now, income taxes have been waived on a third of their stipends as a “non-accountable” expense allowance.
The Justin Trudeau government has eliminated that effective next year. A report from TNRD staff to a committee of the whole meeting today laid out three options, including a one-time 11.2 per cent increase in directors’ stipends to offset the effect of the change.
The cost to taxpayers would be about 70 cents per residential household.
Another option would be for directors to submit detailed expenses not currently covered by normal expense allowances and to claim a tax deduction for them. Finance director Doug Rae said that approach would be very complicated.
A third option would be to defer a decision until comparisons can be made with what other local B.C. governments are doing.
So far, most are increasing their pay to offset the extra income tax that will be paid beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Some are appointing committees or plan to hire a consultant.
TNRD directors who supported an 11.2 per cent stipend increase said the change in the tax rule represents a decrease in pay. Some who opposed it said it should be up to next year’s board to decide.
Speaking against the increase, I argued that most people don’t get to increase their own paychecks when they’re hit with a tax increase and TNRD directors shouldn’t do it either.
A motion to direct staff to implement a one-time 11.2 per cent pay increase was defeated. No action was taken on the other two options. That means, unless next year’s board decides to revisit it, the issue is dead, and board directors will absorb the tax increase.