Burns Lake council has recently voted to raise their own pay.
At their Jan. 7 meeting, council members gave three readings to the Council Remuneration Bylaw (No. 1017), which increases their remuneration by two per cent over 2019 levels effective Jan. 1, 2020.
The two per cent increase, which the village says reflects the inflation forecast, equals $1,133 in total.
The mayor will now receive $20,060 for the duties of office (an increase from $19,667 in 2019) while each councillor will receive $9,457 (an increase from $9,272).
Council members also receive a flat rate per diem as compensation for time spent away during out-of-town meetings. The amount of the flat rate per diem, set under a separate policy, is currently $100 per day.
Just three years ago (2017), council’s annual pay was approximately 13 per cent less than what it is today — $17,762 for the mayor and $8,373 for each councillor. But this doesn’t mean council members get paid a lot more today.
That’s because after Bill C-44 passed in June 2017, the whole amount of council’s remuneration became taxable. Previously, one-third of the pay was considered a tax-exempt allowance for expenses that were incidental to the job.
The changes to tax legislation have recently led Smithers council to increase their remuneration by just over 12 per cent. At their Nov. 26 meeting, council voted 4-2 in support of adopting a new policy that increases their pay.
The new policy, which has been effective since Jan. 1, amounts to an increase of $3,735, $2,076 and $1,862 respectively for mayor, deputy mayor and councillor — bringing their total remuneration to $32,276.00 (mayor) $17,932.00 (deputy mayor) and $16,133.00 (councillor).
In Houston, a municipality of similar size and population compared to Burns Lake, the mayor currently receives $18,396 while the councillors’ stipend is $9,198.
Prior to an increase effective in 2019, Houston council had not increased their pay levels in eight years — during which the mayor was paid $15,783 and each councillor received $7,891.
Although the District of Houston’s annual indemnity bylaw sets out that the remuneration paid to council is increased by the B.C. Consumer Index each year, councils during that period had chosen to waive the increase.
—With files from Trevor Hewitt