Local politicians face pay cut with loss of tax-free allowance | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Local politicians face pay cut with loss of tax-free allowance

FILE PHOTO - Penticton city council, from left, Tarik Sayeed, Campbell Watt, Helena Konanz, Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, Judy Sentes, Andre Martin and Max Picton.
June 01, 2018 - 3:00 PM

PENTICTON - City councils up and down the valley are discussing what to do about a federal government decision to remove a tax-free allowance local polticians had been receiving.

In Kelowna, councillors voted to give themselves a significant raise to make up for the loss of the allowance and Penticton's local politicians are facing the same decision. 

Municipal politicians get a 30 per cent of their salary paid to them as a tax-free allowance, but that will change in January 2019, when all municipalities have to make the necessary changes to merge the allowance with politicians’ income.

City of Penticton chief financial officer Jim Bauer says the city is aware of the tax change and is looking at options to address it.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says council has yet to discuss the matter, adding it might be a topic of discussion for the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Coun. Helena Konanz doesn't believe they should have had the tax-free status in the first place.

"I’m definitely not in favour of increasing wages for this particular reason," Konanz says.

Coun. Campbell Watt doesn’t think many councillors are looking to live off the $20,000 a year salary.

"I would personally vote against an increase to make up for the loss of tax free amounts, and I would be concerned with any council voting to increase their stipend because of it. It’s an unfair tax burden on citizens. I voted against benefits for councillors and I would vote against this,” Watt says.

Coun. Max Picton says local politicians aren't in it for the money.

“In general, anyone doing this job isn’t doing it for the salary, they’re doing it because it means something to them. I wouldn’t mind seeing something in place where a review of council remuneration happens every five years or so. It’s tough, because no one wants to be the council that votes itself an increase,” Picton says.

Coun. Judy Sentes deferred voicing her opinion until she better understands the ramifications of the matter.

Councillors Tarik Sayeed and Andre Martin did not respond to emails and phone messages by deadline.

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