Just over a month after being elected, Port Moody’s mayor and councillors are getting a raise, although their take-home pay will stay roughly the same.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, council approved a staff recommendation that the salary for the mayor’s job be increased by $696 bi-weekly — or $18,096 annually — while councillors will receive an increase of $158 every two weeks, or $4,108 per year.
But the city’s manager of financial reporting, Laura Turner, said in her report the raise won’t increase the net pay Mayor Rob Vagramov and the six city councillors receive. The change is meant to make up for changes in federal income tax regulations that eliminate a longstanding tax-free allowance for public officials, including MLAs and school board trustees.
The allowance, which currently covers one third of the remuneration paid to the mayor and councillors, is “intended to cover the expenses incurred in the course of fulfilling duties as elected officers,” Turner said. The mayor and councillors aren’t required to file expense reports for the allowance.
But according to a bulletin issued in 2017 by the federal government, beginning in 2019, the allowance must be treated as taxable income, with appropriate deductions for taxes and Canada Pension Plan.
Port Moody’s previous council decided in July 2017 to adopt a staff recommendation to defer any adjustments to the way the mayor and councillors are compensated until the council of 2018-’21 was in place.
In 2018, the remuneration for the mayor’s job is $90,764, including the tax-free allowance of $30,255. Councillors earn a base salary of $35,238, along with the $11,746 tax-free allowance.
If the changes were applied to this year, the mayor would need to earn $108,860 and councillors would earn $39,346 to maintain the same net pay, said Paul Rockwood, Port Moody’s general manager of finance and technology.
He added the actual amount of increase the mayor and councillors will receive next year could still change once the federal government releases its 2019 tax rates.
The changes will mean an annual increased payroll cost to the city of $42,744, plus an additional $4,680 to cover the employer’s share of Canada Pension Plan contributions, according to Turner’s report.
Port Coquitlam’s city council approved similar increases last March. That community’s mayor will earn a salary of $129,000 beginning Jan. 1 while councillors’ remuneration will increase to $46,219.
And Coquitlam council this week approved an increase to deal with the tax changes (see story, this page).
Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Liberal MP Ron McKinnon told The Tri-City News the tax-free allowance “is unfair and provides an advantage that other Canadians do not enjoy.”
— with file from Janis Cleugh