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Fort St. John

Dissension among Council as 5 out of 7 in favour of pay increase

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With Federal legislation passing in 2017 that eliminated a 1/3 tax exemption for elected officials effective January 1, 2019, Council passed a recommendation to increase Council’s remuneration.

Councillor Becky Grimsrud and Councillor Trevor Bolin expressed concerns drawing the funds from the budgets surplus account to make up the difference when Council had time to set this in place yet had waited.

“I’m concerned with the additional cost of this,” said Councillor Grimsrud, “I know it was forced upon us by the Federal Government, a lot of taxpayers have had a lot of additional costs due to different previous things, such as tax rebates being taken away from them and and has not been made up by their jobs,” Councillor Grimsrud goes on to say “Looking at additional staff for the festival plaza and how much of this can be put into another employee.”

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As of January 1, 2019, the Federal Government has a removed a 33% tax exemption for election officials.  With the removal of the tax exemption, municipally elected officials will now receive less take-home pay.

With the approval, the Mayor’s salary will increase to $89,130 compared to $83,430.  Each Councillor would see their income change from $31,286 to $32,850.

Councillor Trevor Bolin expressed “My thoughts are doing it without a surplus and making it apart of the budget in 2020/2023 and holding the line because we are a little behind the gun by doing this last year based on this January and not doing it back,”

The additional $18,525 to fund the pay raise could be found in the operating budget shared the City Manager as a way to reallocate some funds. By adjusting the operating budget, what is being asked of the taxpayer, holding off until the 2020 budget or using the surplus funds were the available options for Council.

“It’s the fact we should have been doing this a year ago, we should have been prepped, and aware changes were coming and worked it into the budget,” said Councillor Bolin

The vote took place, and five were in favour of the recommendation that Council members should not be penalized by receiving less remuneration in 2019 than they did in 2018 due to changes at the Federal level. Also, the recommendation includes the COLA increase that is included in the Council’s current policy that ensures that the Council’s
remuneration does not fall behind the cost of living increases.