(Grace Kennedy photo)

(Grace Kennedy photo)

Delta school trustees vote in pay raise to cover tax increase

The increase will only come into effect for future school boards

Future Delta school board trustees will be getting an increase in compensation, but taking home about the same amount of money.

On Tuesday, June 12, the current school board approved a remuneration increase for 2019, which will see trustees earn between $1,650 and $2,000 more a year.

The increase comes exactly a year after the federal government voted to remove tax breaks for school trustees that allowed them to claim up to a third of their compensation, which was used for board-related expenses, as tax-exempt.

“As a trustee, we don’t have the same perks of office that some other folks do,” board chair Laura Dixon explained at Tuesday night’s board meeting. “We don’t have printers handed to us and cell phone bills covered. We get a loaner laptop, which we very much appreciate, but we give it back when we’re done being a trustee.”

“It’s not accessible to all socio-economic groups, to everybody,” she continued, speaking about the ability to be a trustee. “To see [remuneration] eroded in this way, without consultation, was indeed disheartening.”

Bill C44, which passed on June 12, 2017, would see the third of their compensation become taxable after Jan. 1, 2019, resulting in an annual income loss that’s between $1,638 and $1,986, depending on trustees’ positions on the board. In light of that, the school board voted to increase remuneration from that date forward.

The amount for the board chair will go up by $2,000, while the amount for vice-chair would go up by $1,700. Other trustees would see their remuneration increase by $1,650.

“One of the things I’ve learned from being on this board, is if you want to have the quality people doing the quality job expected from our staff, then you have to pay,” trustee Bruce Reid said.

Fellow board member Nick Kanakos agreed.

“We will all be paying more tax and in fact we will be receiving less money for a job we were doing in the past,” he said during the board meeting Tuesday. “And it’s always been the policy, in my mind, of the board to not have any of education partners receive less money, and I think I will support the motion here for the same reasons.”

The increase will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 and is based on the trustee remuneration being a member’s sole source of income, secretary treasurer Nicola Christ said in an email. It will not impact any other calculations for remuneration, which is outlined in the board operations policy.

The timing of the increase means it will go into effect for the next school board, following the election in October 2018. Two sitting trustees, Dixon and Kanakos, have already declared their intention to run in the upcoming election. Trustee Fabian Milat announced at Tuesday night’s meeting that he will not be seeking another term on the board.

The decision to increase remuneration for the future board, Dixon said, was an important continuation of school board policy.

“I thought it was important this board deal with something that’s going to go to the future board,” she said. “That we should not saddle them with walking in the door and … taking a pay cut.”


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