UPDATE: New Westminster trustees approve pay raise

Trustees have approved an 11 per cent pay increase to help offset possible lost wages thanks to changes to the way elected officials’ remunerations are taxed.

The tax changes were announced by the Government of Canada in 2017 and came into effect in Jan. 1, 2019. Before this year, only 67 per cent of an elected official’s remuneration, also called a stipend, was taxed, while the remainder was paid tax-free to recognize possible personal expenses. Now the government is taxing the entire stipend and allowing trustees to claim some expenses as deductions when filing their taxes.

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At a school board meeting last month, some trustees said they were concerned about the possible impact the tax changes would have on their overall take-home pay.

Trustee Maya Russell asked staff to return to the board table with information on what other school districts are doing in response to the tax changes.

“We need to make the income whole and adjust for this taxation hit, because we’re not looking at an increase; we’re looking at a significant decrease because of this taxation change,” she said at the meeting in January.

A staff report presented to trustees Tuesday night recommended an 11-per-cent increase and that this increase be a one-time adjustment effective Jan. 1.

The proposed increase, which would offset the impact on trustee stipend, would range from $154 to $185 per month, or $1,848 to $2,220 per year, but it does not take in to account variable factors like a second income from a career, according to the report.

The one-time increase will cost the district $17,699. Trustees’ pay will rise from $22,320 to $24,775 the vice-chair’s pay would rise from $23,876 to $26,502, and the chair’s pay would rise from $25,432 to $28,230.

The increase was approved unanimously by all trustees present, including Russell, Gurveen Dhaliwal, Danielle Connelly, Mark Gifford, Dee Beattie and Anita Ansari. Trustee Mary Lalji was not at Tuesday’s meeting.

About 15 other school boards in B.C. have approved made some type of pay adjustment to offset the tax change.

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