Tomorrow (20 March 2017) at Newmarket's Committee of the Whole, Councillors will vote on whether they keep their special tax status.
At the moment, one third of their Council remuneration comes tax free. According to the relevant Council by-law (R7-2002) this is
"deemed to be for expenses incident to the discharge of their duties".
At the meeting they can vote to maintain this tax free status or repeal their earlier resolution as from 1 January 2018.
If they vote for the latter they cannot subsequently vote to return to tax free status. The last time councillors addressed the issue was in May 2012 when they supported the continuation of the tax free allowance.
Personally, I think this tax free status should be done away with. It seems an anomaly in today's world which puts a premium on openness and transparency. And it just feeds the (false) narrative that councillors are out to feather their own nests.
If the Council votes to get rid of this special tax free status councillors can claim for expenses in the usual way.
Tax free status is also unfair. One third of Van Trappist's substantial remuneration comes tax free. Other councillors, who don't snooze through meetings and who get more modest remuneration, by definition, get less.
If councillors feel they are not properly remunerated they should do something about it using the appropriate comparators. I don't have any problems with this whatsoever.
Councillors do an important job on our behalf and they should be fairly rewarded. But tax free status should not be part of the package.
You can read the report on the Committee of the Whole agenda for 20 March 2017. Open the packet and scroll to page 97.
Note: Mayoral and Councillors' expenses are posted on-line quarterly on the Town's website.