Sylvan Lake Council pay to increase due to tax changes

The Federal Government passed a bill in March 2017 to eliminate tax exemption for elected officials

Sylvan Lake’s Town Council voted to increase their pay as of the new year to offset what would be a 10 per cent decrease issued by the Federal Government.

At Monday night’s regular meeting, the mayor and council voted five to one in favour of increasing the pay of municipally elected officials.

Mayor Sean McIntyre voted against increasing pay to maintain the same take home pay for the town’s elected officials.

“This is something I have wrestled with for the last few weeks,” said McIntyre., who added he ultimately couldn’t get behind it.

In March 2017, the Federal Government passed Bill C-44, which effectively eliminates the one-third tax exemption for elected officials. The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Danny Scott, human resource manager with the town, says the elimination would mean roughly a 10 per cent decrease in the salaries for mayor and council.

Scott and administration contacted four members of the 2016 Citizen Council Remuneration Committee to discuss possible avenues.

“The committee said it was unfair and unjust,” Scott said to Council. “Actually they used ‘not cricket.’”

Ultimately the committee members suggested “making it right” by making Council’s take home pay similar to what it currently is.

Municipalities in Canada, and their budgets, have benefited from the tax exemption since 1954.

CAO Wally Ferris said the impact of the budget, roughly $28,000 would be fairly small when looking at the larger picture.

“It is unfortunate we have to bring this to Council mid-term, but it is something we have to do,” said Ferris.

Sylvan Lake is not the only municipality to vote for the change. Red Deer City Council also voted to increase their remuneration on Nov. 26. Similar communities like Stony Plain, Strathmore, High River, Lacombe, and Camrose have either chosen to increase wage to make up the difference or are still reviewing budgets and will soon make a decision.

Members of the 2016 Citizen Council Remuneration Committee said it wasn’t fair to ask the members of council to “personally absorb” the wage decrease “because of a federal decision.”

“What the Federal Government has imposed is a 10 per cent cut. What have you done to deserve that?” Scott asked of Council before the vote.

Ferris argued the increase to the pay isn’t really an increase. Instead he called it maintaining the status quo, as mayor and council would see the same take home pay.

Before Council voted on the increase, Ferris asked the members to think carefully about the prospect and what it truly means.

“[The increase] isn’t just about this council, it is for the future councils as well,” Ferris said.

Mayor McIntyre said the change in remuneration is imposed by the Federal Government, and is a sensitive issue for all councils, not just in Sylvan Lake.

“I think that when our prime minister, Mr. Trudeau, and the Federal Finance Minister Mr. Morneau were looking at their tax changes, I think they saw municipalities as an easy target,” McIntyre said.

“This is a decision that is faced across the province and across the country, and it’s a very difficult one for Council.”

As of Jan. 1, 2019 the monthly honorarium for the mayor will be increased by $606.02 from $4,069.21 to $4,675.23.

The monthly honorarium for councillors will also increase from $1,932.40 to $2,218.38, a difference of $285.98 each.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Sylvan Lake Wranglers. File Photo
Sylvan Lake Wranglers ready for shorten hockey season

The HJHL will have a 20 game season, playing four games in a cohort and then going dark for 14 days

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Most Read