The board of education has looked to a pay hike to make up for tax exemption to part of their remuneration that CRA recently removed for local government officials. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River school trustees raise remuneration to maintain net pay

Board responding to Canada Revenue Agency’s changes to tax-exempt portion of pay

School district’s board of education is changing its remuneration in response to federal government tax changes.

The Canada Revenue Agency is removing a one-third tax exemption for the remuneration that school trustees and other elected local government officials receive.

“The take-home that each trustee currently receives will go down if nothing changes,” secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board at the Nov. 27 meeting.

The principle behind the exemption was to help officials make up for vehicle use and other “out-of-pocket” expenses they incur while conducting business. As of Jan. 1, 2019, the exemption will be gone, meaning the board members will be taxed on the entirety of their pay.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River trustees vote to raise remuneration

To maintain the net pay after taxes, the gross trustee remuneration would need to be increased by approximately $1,122 for the chairperson, $924.96 for the vice-chair, and $862.08 for trustees. In response to a question from trustee Joyce McMann, board chair Richard Franklin said many boards were looking to increase the remuneration level.

“From what I understand, this is generally what’s happening throughout the province,” he said. “In fact, I think we’re one of the last districts to do so.”

Trustee Daryl Hagen suggested the board consider getting independent people to provide a recommendation.

“I feel uncomfortable voting a raise for myself,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it.”

In response, trustee John Kerr said a raise was simply to keep the net amount the same, adding that it was a lot to ask of trustees to take a 33 per cent cut to their pay in light of the time and responsibility of the position.

“It’s not like … ultimately we’re giving ourselves a pay raise,” he said. “In this case, we are staying where we were. We’re preventing ourselves from moving backwards…. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable accommodation to deal with what the federal government has imposed.”

In addition to this situation, the board is also conducting a review to analysis remuneration levels based on what other trustees in similar districts earn. Patrick said the board could use that process as an alternate way of taking corrective measures when the remuneration analysis comes due next June, though he explained the remuneration analysis is independent of any process on how to respond to the CRA changes.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River School Board clarifies roles

The annual trustee remuneration is based on a formula that had been recommended by a representative community committee in 2005.

For now, the majority of the board supported the move to increase the amount to keep the net pay at the same level, with only Hagen opposing.

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