Yk council mulls changes to pay

by Avery Zingel - August 16, 2018

As changes to CRA taxation rules on municipal officials loom, councillors say the incoming council should not be forced to vote on their own wages.

City councillors and other elected officials in the territory will lose a tax exemption when CRA rules come into effect next year. Avery Zingel/NNSL photo

In a memo to council Monday, senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett outlined options for refreshing pay practices at the city. Councillors requested public input on remuneration, but time constraints won’t allow for that consultation, said Bassi-Kellett.

Instead, a consultant could deliver recommendations on pay practices directly to council, as the January 2018 deadline for CRA tax reform approaches.

Administration recommended council approve a committee that would study the consultant’s findings.

In January, council directed administration to prepare options for disconnecting council pay from salary raises for unionize employees, and disconnecting council pay from inflation.

City council approved a consultant, but stated a committee on wages could unfairly delay a decision and saddle the next council with a difficult decision.

The consultant must report back with their findings by September 15, 2018.

The final council meeting for the current council is Oct. 26 and the city must have information approved by council by early November to make it into the 2019 budget.

Forcing a future council into voting on its own wages could put new councillors in “more of a difficult proposition” than the current council voting on the consultants recommendations, said Coun. Julian Morse.

Councillors including Linda Bussey, Rebecca Alty and Morse were in favour of directly voting on the consultant’s recommendations over a committee decision.

Councillors don’t necessarily run for pay, said Coun. Niels Konge, but councillors sit in different tax brackets and often put in more work than they are compensated for.

“Each individual councillor is going to have to have a different pay, unless we’re all in the same tax bracket and that’s not achievable from my perspective,” he said.

Whether council is remunerated fairly should be looked at by a committee and remain separate from the issue of new taxation rules, said Konge.

“How much is a councillor worth?” he said. “The amount of work a councillor puts in doesn’t necessarily reflect the income that they get for the job.”

“Let’s do it correctly because it’s pretty important,” he said.

Bussey opposed administration’s proposition for a committee.

“I think we have a responsibility to make this decision for the next council to make a decision and not leave them with that decision,” said Bussey.

The city risks going “committee crazy,” said Coun. Adrian Bell, adding that a three person panel would not make up for a lack of public consultation.

The consultant will look at the municipal officers allowance and best practices for council remuneration, said senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett.