Truro councillors vote to increase remuneration to offset elimination of tax exemption

The federal budget removed a decades-old tax exemption aimed at helping elected municipal officials, which will result in less compensation for mayors and councillors, beginning January 1, 2019.

CAO Mike Dolter told town council Monday that some Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities members believe these changes could make holding public office unaffordable for small to medium-sized municipalities.

Up until now, one-third of an elected member's compensation was tax free.

This was done as many municipalities are unable to budget anything for constituency issues, which are generally paid for out of the elected member's pocket themselves.

Dolter says this was more of a "big city issue", where larger municipalities were able to budget an allowance to address minor constituency issues.

In response, Truro town councillors have passed a motion to increase their remuneration so their take-home compensation will be the same as it was before these changes come into effect.

The average increase for councillors as of January 1st will be $3,100, with the deputy mayor getting a $3,500 increase, and $7,000 for Mayor Bill Mills.

Dolter and Mills both stressed that there is no net increase for any member of council, with the CAO adding that most municipalities in the province have also decided to do this.

Deputy Mayor Tom Chisholm says he'd rather they didn't have to do this but, again, municipalities have to bear the costs.