County of Stettler Coun. James Nibourg Stettler Independent file photo

Stettler County hosts Coffee with Council

Coun. Nibourg opposes council pay increase

Some Stettler County councillors are opposed to increasing their salaries to make up for tax changes.

The federal government is eliminating a tax exemption for one-third of elected officials’ incomes, meaning councillors will take home less pay unless they increase their salaries. The increase in councillor salaries in 2019 is equal to about a 1.5 per cent property tax increase.

“I’m immensely against this,” said Coun. James Nibourg during council’s Coffee with Council session Dec. 18.

Likewise, Coun. Les Stulberg said times are tough.

“This is the way we can do our part to help balance the budget.”

Two people attended the public coffee with council session and both said they were against council increasing their pay to offset the federal tax on their income.

“I think it sucks,” said Jim Bogdanovich of Big Valley. “Times are tough.”

Bill Snow of Big Valley said he was disappointed with the turnout at the council session.

READ MORE: Stettler County reduces density on controversial Paradise Shores

The 2019 budget doesn’t include any tax increases for linear or machinery and equipment. It does, however, propose a three per cent tax increase to residential and a five per cent increase to farmland. This would add about $149,500 to the county’s coffers.

The county’s proposed $16 million 2019 budget also includes a two per cent cost of living increase for staff.

Administration accounts for 16 per cent of the budget, transportation services 47 per cent, water distribution six per cent, fire six per cent, recreation four per cent, planning and development four per cent, agricultural services four per cent, council 3 per cent, culture one per cent, garbage collection three per cent, sanitary services two per cent and other expenses four per cent.

READ MORE: Stettler County declares region an agricultural disaster area

Council will discuss council remuneration more at its Jan. 9 regular council meeting before voting on its proposed budget.

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