Saskatoon council to decide on adjusting mayor’s, councillors’ salaries

Saskatoon city council could decide on Tuesday whether to give itself a raise next year … sort of.

A city report recommends boosting the salaries of Mayor Charlie Clark and the 10 city councillors next year to make up for the elimination of the tax-free portion of elected officials’ salaries.

The move would mean an extra $122,000 in salary costs, which is equivalent to a 0.05 per cent property tax increase next year, even though politicians’ overall income would not increase.

“Several Canadian municipalities have adopted, or are adopting this approach,” says the report, which was written by the City of Saskatoon’s director of policy and government relations, Mike Jordan.

Currently, the mayor’s salary is set at 85 per cent of a Saskatchewan cabinet minister’s salary to account for the tax-free portion. Councillors receive 46 per cent of the mayor’s salary. The federal government decided in 2017 to eliminate the tax exemption for elected officials.

The report recommends increasing the mayor’s salary to $145,152, the same as a cabinet minister, from $123,379.

Councillors, who are considered part time in Saskatoon, would see their salaries rise to $66,770 from $56,754.

Regardless of whether council opts to approve the raise, council members’ salaries will be fully taxable in 2019.

If no change to salaries is made, Clark’s after-tax income would be reduced by $12,000 in 2019 and councillors’ income would each drop by $4,000.

Council will also consider the option of increasing the mayor’s and councillors’ salaries over two years to ease the burden on taxpayers. Under this scenario, the mayor’s salary would increase to $134,991 in 2019 and councillors would be paid $62,096.

The benefit of this approach, the report says, is to spread the increased cost over two years. The 2019 preliminary property tax increase has been set at 4.5 per cent.

Then, assuming a two per cent increase in a cabinet minister’s salary, the mayor would be paid $148,055 in 2020 and councillors would make $68,105.

The city’s existing salary structure was established by a commission in 1980 and reconfirmed in 2005 and 2016. Council appointed a municipal review commission in 2015 to provide advice in areas like remuneration.

The commission backs the idea of adjusting the salary of the mayor to make it the same as a cabinet minister and then changing councillors’ salaries accordingly with the tax-exempt status removed.

Whichever option council approves at its governance and priority committee meeting on Tuesday, residents will get their chance to provide input at council’s public hearing meeting on Dec. 17.

ptank@postmedia.com

twitter.com/thinktankSK

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