The School District 54 office building in Smithers. (File photo)

School trustees raise their pay

Federal tax changes one of the reasons

School District 54 trustees have voted themselves a pay raise of 19 per cent, partially to offset a change in federal tax law.

A portion of their pay had been considered a non-taxable expense allowance but that’s now been done away with in a wide-sweeping move affecting local governments and school districts.

“This will result in a decrease in net compensation due to greater deductions,” explained school district secretary treasurer Dave Margerm.

The increase, as of July 1, will then help to balance off the greater deductions.

But the increase was also to bring trustee compensation up to that paid to trustees of school districts of similar size, budgets and enrolments, Margerm said.

As of last year the chair was paid $12,924.96, the vice chair $10,770.84 and trustees $9,693.72.

This was approximately 20 per cent below those other districts, Margerm said.

The increases will put the chair’s pay at $15,380,70, the vice chair at $12,817.30 and the trustee compensation at $11,535.52.

The vote to increase pay was approved by five trustees, with one opposing, indicate school board minutes.

If trustees did vote themselves a compensation rise, they also turned down for this year a provision to boost pay by the increase in the B.C. Consumer Price Index.

That would have meant an additional 2.4 per cent based on the December 2018 index level. All six board members voted in favour of declining the consumer price index increase.

School board policy is that the consumer price index increase is automatic unless voted down by trustees at their annual March board meeting.

Information provided indicates trustee raises through the consumer price index went through in 2018, 2017, 2014, 2009 and 2001.

Trustees do receive a per diem meal allowance when on official business for meals not provided at an event they are attending, a mileage allowance when traveling on official business and are reimbursed for room costs only when on official business.

Alcohol and gratuities are not regarded as reasonable expenses for reimbursement purposes.

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