Council votes down pay increase

Some units hike pay in response to tax change

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – MODG council voted unanimously not to increase councillors’ remuneration during its Nov. 21 regular monthly meeting. Municipal councils across the country have been dealing with the question of whether to adjust councillors’ pay in response to CRA changes coming into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Currently one-third of councillors’ stipend is tax exempt. That benefit is being dropped in the new year, meaning councillors’ take-home pay will be less.

“We had staff survey some of the other municipalities to see what they were doing,” Warden Vernon Pitts told The Journal. “The vast majority is making up the difference (through a pay increase). Our council is not.”

MODG is currently in a period of fiscal restraint, with significantly reduced commercial tax revenues coming into play with the end of the Sable Offshore Energy Project. Pitts said that restraint “is reflected in the budget last year and I expect it will be in our budget this year.”

While Pitts said the decision to not increase councillors’ stipend is “in the best interest of everyone,” he’s not a fan of how the tax change is timed.

“What it boils down to is you’re halfway through the term and they changed the rules,” he said. The warden said he would have preferred if Revenue Canada had scheduled the changes to come into effect with the start of the next term in municipal government.