By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 28 2018
Dysart et al council will increase remuneration for its members to offset the end of tax exemption that has traditionally given elected officials a third of their income tax-free.
The federal government has ruled that exemption will end as of Jan. 1 2019.
Councillors discussed options during an Aug. 27 meeting and ultimately decided to increase compensation so that the take-home pay of councillors would remain the same. Algonquin Highlands and Haliburton County councils recently made the same decision.
“It’s difficult to talk about” said Deputy Mayor Andrea Roberts referencing Dysart’s recent decision to increase councillors’ compensation to put it on par with other politicians in the county. Starting at the beginning of the next council term the mayor will make about $26700 per year the deputy mayor approximately $21400 and ward councillors about $18720.
Option A was to leave payment at status quo meaning councillors would actually see a reduction in their take-home pay.
Option B was to leave compensation the same but allow councillors to file additional expenses. Part of the rationale for the tax-free third as it has existed was to help politicians cover costs they pay out-of-pocket. Option C was to increase councillors’ gross compensation so their net take-home pay remains the same. The facilitation of that will increase the total cost of council by about $20000.
“Now it’s going to be a whammy here for taxpayers” said Mayor Murray Fearrey.
Roberts was wary of Option B.
“You’d have to be very clear on what is an expense” she said. “I feel like Option B is opening the door to being potentially more.”
Roberts referenced the decisions of Algonquin Highlands and Haliburton County councils adding it was her understanding other councils were likely to make the same decision.
“My understanding is that everybody’s going with Option C” she said.