As we know, one third of Newmarket councillors' remuneration comes tax free. The policy was reaffirmed on 20 March 2017.  

This allows Van Trappist's remuneration to appear as $117,162 on the Sunshine List rather than $148,560 if he paid tax on his entire income just like the rest of us have to do.

(Of course, $148,560 is not his "entire income" but let's not muddy the waters.) 

Some municipalities have gotten rid of tax free status and others like Newmarket cling on to it, making meaningful comparisons between municipalities impossible. The bald, unqualified figures shown in the Sunshine List are worse than useless.

Yesterday, after Kathleen Wynne told us the Sunshine List is here to stay, I wrote to my MPP, Chris Ballard, asking if it could be tweaked in some way, perhaps by putting an asterisk after Van Trappist's name (and others in the same category) indicating a portion of their remuneration is tax free.

According to the relevant Newmarket Council by-law (R7-2002) the one third tax free for elected officials is

"deemed to be for expenses incident(al) to the discharge of their duties".

I am left wondering if Van Trappist can point to a single expense borne by him that is not already picked up by the Town.

Maybe there is one.

He doesn't claim a cell phone subsidy.

But why not?

It seems quite out of character.

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 Update on 4 April 2017: This is from the Aurora newspaper on 11 March 2011.

While Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen carries a BlackBerry and embraces technology as the new way to engage residents in town business, he doesn’t agree council meetings are the place to use it. “I have noticed an increase in use during meetings and it has become problematic,” he said.

Short-changing the taxpayer

“I think it’s not only disrespectful to your colleagues, because it says you’re not listening, but you are short-changing the taxpayer, too.”

It is difficult for anyone to do two things at once, he noted. Only half of the information, half of the discussion and half of the debate will be absorbed if you’re busy typing on an electronic device.

How is someone to make an educated decision on an issue, especially something as complicated as the budget, without hearing every point made? Mr. Van Bynen asked.

Newmarket has yet to discuss the need for  a cellphone policy, but Mr. Van Bynen doesn’t think it will be long before he brings forward the issue.


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