A change to the federal tax structure has prompted Ponoka town council to approve a jump in pay.
Beginning on Jan. 1, the income tax exemption on one-third of the money paid to municipal politicians in Alberta will be gone and their entire pay becomes taxable.
In order to maintain the same take home pay in 2019 as was made this year, council passed a motion that hikes the annual amounts 15 per cent on the formerly non-taxable portion — as well as on hourly and per diem rates.
That translates into a bump up of nearly $2,000 for the mayor — who will make just over $28,600 in 2019 — while councillors will experience an increase of slightly more than $1,100 for an annual amount close to $16,200.
Per diem rates — paid out for attending committee meetings or other events representing council — are also on the rise, with the hourly rate up $1.75 to $36.75 per hour, while the half-day rate will rise to $136.50 (up $6.50) and the full day rate grows $13 to $273.
Corporate services director Sandra Lund explained the 15 per cent figure was derived from the Canada Revenue Agency’s personal income tax rate for amounts below $47,630.
“During the 2019 budget deliberations, the remuneration changes were presented to reflect that council would be taking home the same net pay (as in 2018),” she told council.
“As a result, there will be an increase of the gross pay overall of $8,557 and that is reflected in the 2019 budget.”
Since much of the discussion on the subject was completed during the two-day budget deliberations held last month, only Mayor Rick Bonnett had something to say about the changes.
“Can we get with other municipalities and have a meal/subsistence allowance as a straight flat rate rather than have to submit receipts,” he stated.
“It just cleans up all the paperwork.”
Lund noted that earlier discussions had sought a committee be formed in the new year to look at the issue and that plan was to be brought back to council early in 2019.