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Opinion

The question remains; If they do not vote themselves a raise; Who will stay and who will go?

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  • Will the Mayor and our 8 city councillors suffer a perceived salary cut? Every business owner, tradesman and even the Alberta Government employees saw roll backs, cuts and decreased profits. Didn’t then Premier Ralph Klein roll back government employees pay by 5% and frozen for years afterwards?
    I say perceived because they are not actually seeing a salary cut but an equalization of taxes, compared to non-politicians. They had the benefit of a 1/3 tax free earnings subsidy which ceases to exist on January 1 2019.
    The subsidy was granted to offset personal expenses peculiar to the role of being a politician. Politicians were also given expense accounts to cover the costs of these same personal expenses so the benefit was rather redundant. Some would call this unintentional double-dipping.
    Being human they became accustomed to having the extra funds, forgetting the reason for them.
    Now they are like the rest of Alberta’s society, who has faced a pay cut, and facing a possible net pay decrease. So the question is; “If they do not vote themselves a raise, who will stay and who will go?”
    October 2017 there were 2 candidates for mayor and 29 candidates for city council, how many of them ran for the pay cheque and how many would have withdrawn their nomination papers if they knew that the 1/3 exemption would end in 2019?
    I do not believe any one would have withdrew from the campaign and I do not think our mayor or any of our councillors will resign due to this hardship. Do you?


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    Opinion

    I will miss those 3 years…….

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  • The last 3 years has been a blessing to my soul.
    For 3 years I have heard less and less the terms; “Rig Pig” and “Redneck”. For 3 years Alberta was involved in nation building, national conversations without the patronizing tones so often experienced before.
    Now it is returning and with a vengeance.
    Jason Kenney made a statement in Alberta, and the host of a political show, “Question Period” asked former Minister Peter MacKay, if he believed that Jason Kenney actually believed that statement, and Mr. MacKay shrugged it off with; You have to remember who he is talking to. He is talking to his constituents.
    Now Mr. Kenney is regularly in the news dealing with party members involved or making statements regarding, racism, anti-Semitism, swastikas, and other backward issues. Promoting Mr. Carpay who compared the Pride flag with a swastika.
    I will miss those 3 years.
    This week I made a comment about steak sandwiches were getting smaller but more expensive, and I was told in a loud voice that it was because of Notley’s carbon tax. I reminded them that we are talking about a decades long trend but this gentleman, insisted.
    Another gentleman brought up that if it snows on the QE2, it will be blamed on the carbon tax.
    I will miss those 3 years.
    I mentioned that I did not believe that any one single Premier had anything to do with the judge ruling against Keystone XL piping in the U.S. and I was called a Trudeau lover.
    I will miss those 3 years.
    I was condemned for maintaining my tipping style at a restaurant because because of Notley, the waitress is now making minimum wage.
    I will miss those 3 years.
    For 3 years I had peaceful political conversations. Many disagreements, but mainly, they were peaceful, mature, informative and enjoyable. That was before.
    Perhaps it was simply because our Premier was a lawyer, pre-politics like Peter Lougheed and learned how to navigate through contentious issues with training and real life experiences that influenced the political arena.
    There has been discussions about quality education, quality care for the sick and the elderly but now the talk is about tax cuts and rolling back services to 2015 levels.
    I will miss those 3 years.
    No female Premier ever won 2 elections in a row in Canada, even former B.C. Premier Christie Clarke lost her seat in her second election as Premier and had to run in a by-election, later. 3 years ago I would have thought that Alberta may crack that glass ceiling but now I am unsure.
    For 3 years I was content, shredding that Alberta persona of “Redneck”, “Rigpig” and basking in the glow that Alberta was leading the country in Economic Growth and in fighting the Climate Change battle.
    Now we are back to wanting to pay less and get more. Simple.
    I will miss those 3 years.


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    Councils Salary Increase, nothing to see here. 👀👀 Move along please.

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  • I have been doing some research regarding council pay and the purpose of the 1/3rd tax deduction… Please bear with me on this post as it is a little lengthy.

    The First screenshot is from the Council Compensation & Benefits form. It specifically outlines that the compensation is deemed to be an “allowance” for expenses that are incidental to the discharge of their duties and is, therefore, not taxable. This tax credit allowance ads up to a $5801.50 to the councillors pay check that they would not otherwise recieve. (Photo 3). Some background. Council has proposed to increase their salary by a whopping 13.48% and the Mayors salary by 18.65% to cover the elimination of this tax credit. Council believes the additional taxes they will have to pay should be covered by the taxpayers. Just a side note, I have done what I can with the limited data that I could collect from the city, If i have made any errors in my research I welcome the corrections.

    Lets be clear: this tax break is for EXPENSES. The purpose of this tax break is not to provide a salary relief but rather to be used for expenses that are not receipted. Now, that could be fair if not for the fact that councillors already have a expense budget (photo two) which is the budget and Expenditure Summary that each councillor recieves. Let me ask you, if the councillors have $5801.50 of tax relief specifically because they have expenses yet they also have a budget specficially for expenses then something is wrong here. There is a system in place that allows councillors to double dip and councillors have done nothing about it!

    The purpose of the Councillors budget – expenses
    The purpose of the 1/3rd tax deduction – expenses

    Councillor Handley is correct when she says the exemption was to make up for public officials not charging for some of their expenses, however she says she doesn’t submit an expense claim unless she drives out of town for a meeting… Why? You have a budget, why not use your budget for legitimate expenses? That way we can track the expenses and keep council accountable. The 1/3rd tax exemption for “expenses” is clearly a roundabout way that council does not have to be accountable. And you can tell by all of their responses that council wants to hold on to the slush fund so they can continue to not be accountable.

    Beyond that Mayor Veer’s statement that “councils take-home salary would stay the same”(after the 13/18% increase) prove once and for all that this tax deduction which had a specific purpose was in fact being used as a personal slush fund rather than being used as an legitimate expense account. “The take home salary would stay the same” Veer said. Remember, the purpose of this tax credit is not actually supposed to be part of the take home salary. It is separate. I’ll say it again: it’s specific purpose, according to the government’s own documents (document # 1201862), is for expenses not salary.

    I will also add that, as a business owner, this would never fly. If I claimed that I had $5801.50 worth of expenses that I could not prove with receipts the CRA would laugh and laugh and laugh and then promptly fine me and charge me interest on everything I should have been paying in the first place. This is not how business operates and our government officials should be held to the same, if not a greater, standard. Red Deerians clearly feel the same as the Red Deer Advocates poll currently shows over 92% of people don’t buy what council is selling here. (picture 4)

    So what do we do Red Deer?
    -Council says this tax credit removal is a salary decrease. This has been proven wrong by the Government’s own documents.
    -Council already has an expense budget where they should be claiming all items, nothing should be “hidden”.
    -Red Deerians greatly disagree with this move by council.
    My proposal is simple

    1. The tax credit should have been removed years ago and should continue to be removed.
    2. The salary “adjustment” should not go ahead as the 1/3rd tax break was not supposed to be part of the salary.
    3. NEW* All incidental expenses should be submitted as part of their base budget.
    4. NEW* All receipts that are submitted NEED to be provided online. This is standard for both the provincial and federal government and it is an absolute disgrace that the municipalities think they don’t need to be held accountable in this way.
    5. NEW* I have always said that If I were elected to council I would NEVER vote a salary increase for myself as it is simply unethical. I propose the current council always votes for the next council’s salary. That way you are never voting for your own salary in your own term and the electorate has the option of kicking you out if you make a mockery of the system.

    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is a reputable organization that had been successfully advocating for lower taxes, less waste and accountable govt for 3 decades. I am pleased that they saw some flaws in this situation and made a recommendation to have citizen councils set wages for civic politicians. The fact the CTF made a comment in the Red Deer Advocates article is a big signal that council has no leg to stand on here and I hope they take this situation seriously.

    What to watch for going forward.
    Council may bow to public pressure here but increase their base budget and add perks such as a housing allowance, vehicle allowance, clothing allowance etc etc… Watch closely to see if they try to get this money out of taxpayers through roundabout methods…

    Lastly, let us remember that every person who submits their papers to run for councillor does so on their own cognition, recognizing the roles, responsibilities and renumeration that they will receive if they are successful in their election bid. Every Councillor knew these changes were coming. This was not a surprise but rather a long overdue needed change to ensure that all expenses are accounted for.

    Please join with me to and tell council to do the right thing. No to this salary increase.


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    november, 2018

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