School trustees get pay hike

Salary adjustment results in a large pay increase but most of it will be eaten up by taxes

School District 43 trustees will continue to be the highest paid school board politicians in B.C. after a salary hike in January, although the taxman will take most of the increase.

SD43 trustees salaries are automatically adjusted Jan. 1 based on the average pay of Coquitlam, Port Moody and Coquitlam councillor — but not those in Anmore and Belcarra, which trustees also serve — and this year, the jump is significant, with trustees' annual remuneration rising from $43,236 to $51,294.

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But the elimination of a tax emption on 30% of the indemnity as a result of new federal tax rules, will result in a net increase of about 2%, according to school board officials. The higher salary is due to hikes Tri-City councillors made in their pay so they wouldn’t be penalized by the loss of the 30% tax exemption.

SD43 trustees didn’t take a vote to hike their salaries to make up for the loss in tax-free income, as councillors did, but didn’t need to because the adjustment more than makes up for the tax bite.

Trustees also nixed the idea of adding Anmore and Belcarra councils' indemnity to the annual salary adjustment, which would have resulted in a lower salary, arguing that the salary is commensurate with the work and responsibility.

Adding village council pay of $12,228 to the calculation — a suggestion made by new Coquitlam Trustee Jennifer Blatherwick at a January board meeting — would have dropped SD43 trustee pay to $36,282.

The salary for SD43 chair, a position currently held by Coquitlam Trustee Barb Hobson, is now $56,423, up from $46,559, and the vice-chair salary will be $53,859, up from $44,602.

SD43’s 2018/19 amended budget approved last week topped out at $380.3 million to run 70 schools with approximately 32,000 students.

Surrey trustees, meanwhile, are responsible for a $788-million budget, 73,000 students and 126 schools and earned $38,610 in the year ending last June while Vancouver trustees, who are responsible for a $615-million budget, earned $26,975 in the 2015/’16 school year.

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