Council is getting a pay raise, but the Federal government is to blame.

That’s the message Bancroft Mayor Paul Jenkins wants to get across after a passionate conversation with My Bancroft Now.  “I’m really ticked with the federal government,” he says.

As of today, one-third of what councillors make is tax-free. This will change in the New Year when that tax exception is taken away. At council last week, a pay raise was approved to offset the loss of the tax exemption. Councillor Valerie Miles, one of the two newly-elected councillors, was the only one to vote against it. “After much consideration from council discussing the pros and cons of the changes to how council remuneration is now taxed, council made the decision to support a small subtle change to council remuneration,” Miles says in a statement to My Bancroft Now. “The change has no dollar value in the pocket of any member of council but does cover the cost of the taxes now due on remuneration value,” she continues. “In the event the taxed portion of the renumeration is adjusted to what has been typical in the past, this small change will be reversed to reflect the current council renumeration model,” Miles says about council’s decision.

Jenkins adds that many councillors will now lose money because of this. “It’s a very screwed up, poorly thought-out policy on the part of the federal government,” Jenkins says. Four of six Bancroft councillors were acclaimed this year.  “If you want to attract people to run on council, you can not make it a penalty for them to do that,” Jenkins says. According to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, 120 heads of council (Mayor, Reeve) were acclaimed, which is up from 103 in the 2014 municipal election. In total 447 acclimations happened this year, which is up from the 390 that happened in the last municipal election.

He added that four councillors work full-time outside of their duties as municipal officials. Some have to take vacation time to attend council meetings, he added. “While you would never go into municipal politics to get rich, you would hope you don’t go into it to lose money,” he says.

Jenkins says he’s been speaking out against the removal of the tax exemption, including speaking to Mike Bossio, the M.P. for Hastings-Lennox and Addington. He says all municipal officials can do at this point is continue to pressure the Federal government to not remove the exemption.

“It’s the old that story that upper levels of government have never treated rural municipalities in a fair manner,” Jenkins says. “Show them a little respect by not taking away a small benefit that they were receiving,” Jenkins went on to say.

“To give the perception that a councillor is getting a pay raise is bogus,” Jenkins says.