No one likes paying higher taxes, but most of us don’t get to raise our pay when our taxes go up. Unless we happen to be directors of the Capital Regional District.
At a time when taxes, fees and assorted living costs are climbing for everyone, CRD directors have voted to increase their compensation by 14 per cent to make up for federal tax changes that will begin next year.
The directors, like all our elected representatives, work hard at difficult jobs. Most of them are mayors or councillors, so their CRD board and committee work is on top of the council and committee work they already do. And they will take a financial hit when the changes take effect.
That doesn’t make the 14 per cent increase a good idea.
The directors’ remuneration sits at $17,632, while the board chair gets $43,563. Under current rules, local government officials receive a tax-free allowance for “non-accountable expenses.” Starting next year, those allowances will not be tax-free, so overall pay will drop.
However, the allowance is for “expenses,” which taxpayers imagine to be expenses incurred in doing the public business. In effect, elected officials — and CRD directors are not unique in this — treat it as part of their salary. They shouldn’t.
Metro Vancouver’s governing board voted themselves a 15 per cent raise in March, only to back down a month later in the face of public outrage.
CRD directors and municipal councillors should have taken note, and resisted the temptation to give themselves a raise.