Weyburn’s city councillors declined to backstop their wages to offset the loss of a federal tax exemption, but voted to allow Mayor Marcel Roy to have his wages filled-in by 8.5 per cent, in a vote on Monday evening in council chambers.
A notice of motion was filed by Coun. Dick Michel on Nov. 13, asking that council approve an adjustment to their remuneration of 8.5 per cent, to offset to loss of a tax exemption which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019 for all municipally elected officials across Canada.
“There is no net gain on this, for myself or for council,” said Mayor Roy prior to the vote, pointing out that the Liberal government saw fit to remove the tax exemption on one-third of the remuneration paid to council members. “This adjustment is just that amount, although it may seem like a huge increase, it has no net increase whatsoever.”
“It’s fairly hard for everyone to understand the breakdown of this,” said Coun. Mel Van Betuw. “My point of view is I would like to see us put it off until January 1 of 2021.”
He added that the mayor should receive the adjustment in his wages, but council members should wait until 2021 to accept this adjustment.
“I feel your wage should be topped up, because at the least, this is a half-time job if not a full-time job,” Coun. Van Betuw told Mayor Roy. “You probably feel uncomfortable with this suggestion, but I feel your wages should be topped up.”
“I’m of the same mind,” agreed Coun. Jeff Richards, pointing out that this was not going to be a pay raise for council, but was back-filling for what the federal government will be taking in taxes.
As he felt Weyburn is experiencing some tough times right now, he agreed with the suggestion that the six councillors could wait until Jan. 1, 2021 for the wage top-up, while the mayor’s wages should be adjusted as his ability to earn a living outside of council was considerably impacted by his position as the mayor.
“I can go either way,” said Coun. Michel, adding he liked the idea of waiting until January of 2021 for the rest of council.
Coun. Winston Bailey noted that there could be a whole new council by that date, and that new council could then look at the matter and consider whether the six councillors should receive the wage top-up or not.
“It’s a tough one, because there is a perception that we’re giving ourselves a raise, and we’re not,” said Coun. Jeff Chessall. “What we’re doing is looking long-term for future councils, so that they’re not behind 8.5 per cent. I do think our mayor’s wages should be adjusted as of Jan. 1.”
City clerk Donette Richter pointed out that currently, councillors receive an increase based on the Consumer Price Index as of Jan. 1, according to the current policy for council remuneration.
The council had decided in 2014 that the wage levels would be reviewed in five years’ time, and Richter did a survey of other municipalities, and found Weyburn is “fairly on par” with other communities with their wage levels right now.
Council then took a vote and defeated the original motion, and made a new one to provide Mayor Roy with a top-up of his wages, and the council members will wait until Jan. 1, 2021 for any similar top-up to take place.