On 20 March 2017 Newmarket councillors reaffirmed their existing policy of getting their remuneration paid one-third tax free.
They rationalised. They justified. They agonised. But, at the end of the day, after all the hand-wringing, they voted to keep their special tax free status.
Now, cruelly, the Federal Government has decided to take away this generous concession as from 2019. The move was buried in the 2017 Federal Budget and applies nation-wide. It was under-reported.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario in a news release earlier this month was still peddling the myth that:
"Municipal elected officials across the country have been able to decide to use a 1/3 tax exemption in lieu of claiming expenses related to their duties."
That may be true in some saintly municipalities tucked away, out of sight, in remote corners of Canada. But it isn't true here in Newmarket where our Mayor, Tony Van Trappist, claims for every butter tart consumed at the Maid's Cottage.
Removing tax-free status is long overdue and should be welcomed by all elected officials.
The current system makes it virtually impossible to compare the remuneration of elected officials in different municipalities - especially with those that have ditched their tax free status.
This complexity suits the Van Trappists of this world. The old banker kept his Hydro remuneration off the Town's accounts for years until I forced the issue and his additional $12,000 a year is now routinely reported. This kind of subterfuge cheats the voters.
We need good elected officials to take important decisions on our behalf, often shaping our Town for decades to come.
They deserve the rate for the job.
So long as it doesn't include tax free status.