The chair and vice chair of Chilliwack’s School Board, Dan Coulter and Willow Reichelt at a board meeting earlier this year. (Sarah Gawdin/ Progress file)

Chilliwack school trustees vote for pay raise

Remuneration bump follows recommendations by ad-hoc committee

Chilliwack school trustees will get a bump in their remuneration cheques by 8.3 per cent.

The decision was made at Tuesday night’s board meeting to go along with the recommendation set out by an ad-hoc committee. Two trustees, David Swankey and Jared Mumford, voted against the motion for the increase, and Trustee Willow Reichelt had made a failed motion to suspend this year’s annual cost of living increase.

READ MORE: Chilliwack trustees could see pay hike of 8.3 per cent

While the trustees have an increase in pay on paper, the raise was actually set into motion by a change to federal tax rules that was announced last year. Some trustees noted in the meeting that the increase only just covers the amount trustees will now have to pay in taxes, along with chance to CPP amounts.

Trustee Barry Neufeld said he will still be down about $100 in pay, but would “grudgingly support it.”

Trustee Heather Maahs expressed similar concerns, and reminded the board they had discussed the raise prior to elections to avoid putting a new board into an uncomfortable position.

“I’m not prepared to take a hit, a cut,” she said. “I don’t do this for the money but there are some days they don’t pay us enough.”

Mumford said he was uncomfortable voting for a raise for himself six months into the four-year term, as a new trustee. He suggested the board revisit the idea in 2020.

The changes to the federal tax law were made public prior to the election, and that information was distributed to all trustee candidates who attended an information session held by the school district.

The terms of the pay adjustment move the “trustees to 95 per cent of the medium-size B.C. school district average,” with the 8.3 per cent increase. They will continue with the annual July 1 cost of living increase, their attendance at the B.C. School Trustees Association Annual General Meeting will be costed from the General Governance Budget rather than individual trustees’ Professional Development Accounts.

The change will be effective retroactively from January 1, 2019.


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