Nanaimo’s mayor and councillors will be getting pay raises that will cover higher income taxes.
City council, at its meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, voted 8-1 in favour of a pay increase.
According to a staff report, the federal government is eliminating a “one-third deemed tax exemption” which would have meant a reduction in take-home pay for members of city council in 2019.
Council decided to bump up the mayor’s salary from $95,103 to $110,588, and councillor salaries from $36,636 to $42,692. Factoring in the elimination of the tax exemption, the mayor’s take-home pay remains exactly the same at $81,248 and councillors’ take-home pay increases about $1,300 from $33,686 to $34,975.
“What is being asked for tonight is simply to ensure that those members of council … will see exactly the same paycheque next month as the previous council did for the last four years. So there is no increase to anyone,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.
He said political representation “is important work in our community and we need to value our democracy.”
Coun. Erin Hemmens said “fair remuneration” helps to encourage people who have young families or are in single-income households, for example, to feel like they’re able to pursue public office.
“I recognize that it’s uncomfortable because we do have a big tax hike on the books, but for me, it’s a statement about making this a realistic goal to sit at this table for anyone who wants it,” she said.
The only dissenting vote was from Coun. Jim Turley, who pointed to the 5.1-per cent property tax increase in the preliminary budget and suggested the pay increase could be delayed a year.
“We’re asking our citizens to tighten their belts a little bit and I’m quite prepared to tighten mine to show respect for that,” he said.
District of Lantzville councillors voted themselves a pay increase earlier this month and the Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools trustees discussed a pay raise but delayed a decision until the new year.