Charlottetown city council is looking at adding to councillors' take-home pay, after a federal tax change made for smaller paycheques in 2019.
The wage increase was among recommendations from a Remuneration and Allowances Commission report delivered to council last week.
The report comes after federal government changes to tax exemptions on a third of the salaries that city councillors make during their time in office. This came into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Prior to the federal changes, the tax exemptions had been in place for 66 years.
“When it was eliminated (city councillors) took a big hit in terms of their take-home pay,” said Gerard Mitchell, chairman of the commission.
After the tax change last year, the mayor of Charlottetown lost $10,000, the deputy mayor lost about $4,400 and city councillors lost about $3,950 in tax benefits.
Mitchell went on to say many of Charlottetown’s city councillors work very hard and their jobs can take a lot of time away from their families.
The commission started its work in June and worked through the summer to independently review the compensation and allowances for the city council and the mayor.
“We looked at other cities across Canada, mainly in the Atlantic and Maritime region, and we thought the numbers would situate Charlottetown where it should be,” Mitchell said.
Recommendations included an increase to the mayor’s base salary by $4,000, the deputy mayor base salary by $3,300 and city councillors by $3,000. All of these increases would be taxable.
“These recommendations are not full compensation, they are just a partial compensation,” Mitchell said.
Some of the commission members were, themselves, councillors, like former councillor and mayor George MacDonald, which Mitchell said helped inform the commission’s recommendations.
The commission also interviewed all current Charlottetown city councillors to get their input on the remuneration and allowances.
The commission made other recommendations outside of its authority, including limiting the office of mayor to two terms and to make the position of mayor a full-time job.
Mitchell said this would bring in “new blood” and diversity to the office of the mayor and lead to fresh ideas and strategies.
The remuneration bylaw passed first reading with three councillors voting against it.
Coun. Julie McCabe said she voted against it because she was concerned about a conflict of interest perception and said she wanted to make sure the public knows that this wasn’t a raise for council.
“This was money they had lost when the federal government had taken the tax reduction away, and to be clear, it is a partial recovery for those councillors that experienced that loss,” she said.
“I was not personally impacted by the loss of 15 per cent (in wages) and, when I put my name on the ballot to run, I knew what the expected income would be for that job and I am quite content.”
Remuneration will be in front of council for a second reading at the city’s regular monthly meeting Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.
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