Archives for June 18, 2018
Mayor votes no, but says she’ll accept the money
By ROY WOOD
Osoyoos council took the first steps today toward giving itself a raise to make up for the reduction in take-home pay precipitated by the tax changes in the 2017 federal budget.
The federal budget eliminated a tax exemption on one-third of municipal elected officials’ income. The tax break reflected the view that such politicians incurred expenses in the course of their duties.
Mayor Sue McKortoff was the only council member to speak and vote against the bylaw to increase council stipends. She said later, however, that she will accept the raise if council passes it and she is re-elected in October.
The increase is $2,327 for the mayor, $1,418 for each of the four councillors and $395 each for the two water councillors.
All four councillors voted in favour of accepting the increase. CJ Rhodes said the raise “may be controversial and it may seem like a selfish thing” to taxpayers.
However, he said there will be no increase in take-home pay for members of council. The raise will ensure they don’t face a net reduction because of the action of the federal government.
In expressing her position against the increase, McKortoff cited a substantial raise council gave itself in August 2016. “I’m not sure (now’s) the right time,” she said.
At that time, the mayor received a 15-per-cent pay bump and councillors got five per cent, bringing their annual compensation to $27,142 and $16,543 respectively.
Council faced some criticism after the 2016 pay hike because of the secretive nature of the process.
In contrast to today’s open discussion of the raise, the 2016 staff report and council discussion took place behind closed doors at an in-camera council meeting.
Neither the report on which the raise was based nor minutes of the council’s considerations were made public. The increases were approved at an open meeting, but with the briefest possible notice on the council agenda and a cryptic report from finance director Jim Zakall.
At the time, McKortoff was asked why council opted for a secret process rather than a public one. “I don’t know why,” she said. “It was just brought up at one of our meetings (and) could we have a look at what other communities were paying their councillors and their mayor because we seem to be doing a whole ton of work.”
The new stipends — $30,149 for the mayor, $18,375 for councillors and $5,120 for water councillors – go into effect in 2019. Members of council also receive automatic annual cost-of-living pay increases.
On the question of whether she would accept the raise, McKortoff said in an interview early this evening that she doesn’t even know if she’ll be re-elected in October.
But, if she does retain the mayor’s chair, she will accept the raise in pay. “It goes with the position. And yes, if that is what council has voted to accept, then absolutely.”
2 air support units on the way to McKinney Rd fire
Start location 1305 McKinney Rd (Bell) – fires at structures put out – wild fire spreading east by north. What was first estimated at 4 hectares grew to 10 plus hectares.
EMS called – all units of Oliver Fire Department on the scene
Blaze began just prior to 5pm and into mop up stage at 6:15 – Great job.
Forestry crews came in from Penticton along with two tankers and a bird dog.