(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen directors to receive pay increase

Increase of 11.9 per cent to offset changes to taxation for elected officials

Directors on the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will see their compensation increase by nearly 12 per cent beginning Jan. 1.

At the regional district’s Corporate Services Committee meeting on Dec. 5, the regional district approved a compensation increase of 11.9 per cent.

But members of the board as well as members of the regional district’s compensation say the change to compensation is not a pay raise.

“This is not a wage increase; this is a compensation,” said Bill Ross, a member of the committee.

Regional district board chair Karla Kozakevich referred to the change as “an equalization.”

In the past, elected officials could receive a non-accountable allowance for work expenses that were not taxable, but in January, 2019, this one-third income tax exemption was eliminated. Income taxes and Canada Pension Plan premiums are now payable on this amount.

To compensate, some regional districts have implemented or are now implementing pay increases for their elected members.

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The increase means a regional district director representing an electoral area will receive an additional $2,629.36, for a total of $24,724.84 in the new year.

A municipal director will receive an additional $760.18, bringing the total to $7,148.26.

The vice-chair’s compensation will increase by $718.56 for a total of $6,756.84 and the chair’s compensation will go up by $3,943.20 for a total of $37,079.40.

Members of the board and members of the compensation committee said the pay given to regional directors is not extravagant.

“Nobody at this table is here for monetary reasons,” Ross said.

Director Riley Gettens said the workload for a regional district director requires a lot of time.

“The compensation we get can’t really sustain a younger family,” she said.

Several of the regional district directors said the increase is needed in order to maintain the present level of compensation for those on the board.

“To call it a raise is not truly a proper characterization,” said director Ron Obirek.

The compensation for the chair and vice-chair are in addition to the compensation these people receive as municipal or electoral area directors.

The cost of the 11.9 per cent increase is estimated at $60,000 or $1.11 for each residential residence within the regional district.

The regional district’s Corporate Services Committee voted to approve the increase, with directors Doug Holmes, Subrina Monteith and Tim Roberts opposed.

The resolution will now be on the regional district’s board meeting agenda on Dec. 19.

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