By Tyler Olsen and Kevin Mills
Mission is considering a pay hike that would see councillors paid more than those in neighbouring Abbotsford, which has more than three times the population.
Mission’s council is proposing to increase the amount paid to the mayor and councillors following this fall’s election.
The proposal would see the Mayor’s remuneration rise from $73,906 per year to $84,394. Councillors will see a larger increase.
Currently, a councilor receives 40 per cent of the mayor’s salary ($29,560). Under the new proposal, councillors would receive 50 per cent of the mayor’s new wage, approximately $42,197 per year.
That’s an increase of about 42 per cent.
If approved, the increase would come into effect in January of 2019, after the election.
In Abbotsford, which has three times more people than Mission, the mayor will earn $101,250 and councillors will be paid $40,500 after the next election. In 2016, Abbotsford overhauled how wages of politicians were set and tied increases to that of the average wage of residents. Councillors are paid three-quarters the salary of an average Abbotsford worker, with the mayor paid two-and-a-half times a councillor’s salary.
The District of Mission, meanwhile, took two different factors into consideration.
A comparative analysis of wages was done using Port Moody, West Vancouver, Vernon, Penticton and Campbell River as comparator local governments.
Mike Younie, deputy chief administrative officer said the mayor’s new salary was adjusted upwards to compare to the average of those five municipalities.
The other factor is the loss of the non-taxable allowance.
Currently, one-third of the mayor’s and councillors’ salary is non-taxable as per the Federal Income Tax Act. This tax exemption also applies to provincial income tax. This non-taxable portion is considered as an allowance for expenses.
However, changes to the Income Tax Act will eliminate that non-taxable allowance in 2019, leaving mayor and councillors with no compensation for expenses.
Currently, municipal elected officials receive no mileage, cellphone or car allowances for their day-to-day duties.
The only expenses that can be claimed are when they have to leave the Mission area for conferences of other events, then expenses can be claimed.
The increase in remuneration will help to cover the loss of the tax benefit, city staff say.
Originally staff had recommended that councillors receive 40 per cent of the mayor’s salary ($33,758), noting that 40 per cent is common in other municipalities.
However, several councillors commented that it wasn’t a “part-time job” and Coun. Carol Hamilton suggested 40 per cent of the mayor’s salary might be low.
Mayor Randy Hawes agreed.
“I would be absolutely happy to talk about and support something higher than 40 per cent,” he said.
He then said he would be willing to move that the amount be increased to 50 per cent.
Coun. Jim Hinds was the only person to vote against the proposal, saying an increase is needed, but 50 per cent of the mayor’s salary seemed high.