By Lyonel Doherty
Despite the federal government removing a one-third tax allowance for municipal officials, Oliver Town councillors aren’t trying to recoup the loss.
On Monday, council voted to receive a report from Chief Financial Officer Devon Wannop, who outlined the situation.
He noted it would cost nearly $9,000 to offset the removal of the tax allowance, which didn’t sit well with Councillor Dave Mattes.
“I don’t think we should automatically award ourselves,” he said, adding that councillors are supposed to represent the Town’s interests, not their own.
Wannop explained that the government allows elected officials to receive one-third of their salary as non-taxable. But that’s changing, and the outcome will mean a reduction in net pay for the mayor and councillors.
Wannop said in order to offset this decrease in pay, the approximate salary increase for the mayor is $2,425 and $1,294 for each councillor. Each water councillor would get a boost of $476.
According to Wannop, many municipalities have taken steps to ensure that their elected officials will receive the same net pay going forward.
But Mattes reminded council that it has been raising people’s taxes, so “I don’t think we should get a pay increase.”
However, Mayor Ron Hovanes said the government is asking politicians to take a pay cut. He also noted the boost in salary would not be an increase; it would merely be keeping their net pay the same as before.
Councillor Petra Veintimilla said taking away this benefit is basically asking council to take a cut in pay.
Mattes said the benefit is in place to offset incidental expenses which, for councillors, is miniscule.
On Monday, council released its 2017 Statement of Financial Information, which includes the remuneration of council members and employees who make more than $75,000 per year.
Including benefits and expenses, here is what each council member was paid last year: Jack Bennest ($7,575); Maureen Doerr ($19,323); Mayor Ron Hovanes ($36,016); water councillor Rick Machial ($6,043); water councillor Andre Miller ($10,032); Larry Schwartzenberger ($19,588); and Petra Veintimilla ($20,238).
The following is the remuneration (including expenses) of Town employees: Utility Operator 3 Arvid Bensler – $88,546; Deputy Director of Operations Darren Bjornson – $90,395; Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan – $149,936; Director of Operations Shawn Goodsell – $100,828; Engineering technician Jeffrey Marion – $78,390; Deputy Corporate Officer Linda Schultz – $76,652; Utility Operator 3 Martin Schori – $84,814; Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich – $97,757; Chief Financial Officer Devon Wannop – $88,357; and Deputy Finance Officer Heather Wilson – $95,098.