Councillors will be getting a slight raise for their out-of-town work expenses.
On Sept. 3, elected officials unanimously voted to pass all three readings on an amendment to Remuneration and Expenses Bylaw No. 1503, 1997.
This would give them a mild increase in payments for per diem costs for out-of-town conferences. Previously, this amount was a total of $65.
With the new increases, it has been raised to $75.
Allowances for breakfast and dinner were both bumped up by $5 to a total of $15 and $30, respectively.
Limits for lunch and incidental expenses, both $15, were not changed. Incidentals cover miscellaneous items like snacks, laundry, gratuities and personal calls.
A staff report presented to council says a section was added to the bylaw for travel outside of Canada, with the daily meal and incidental expenses to be reimbursed at the current exchange rate for the local currency, and, with council approval, reimbursement of actual costs be considered.
"Where extraordinary costs were reasonably incurred for meals and incidentals, receipts for actual costs incurred for all meals and incidentals may be submitted in lieu of all eligible per diems," reads the bylaw.
This is the first time the per diem rate for council has been raised in more than 20 years.
These per diem amounts would be given on top of council members' salary, staff said.
Council asked if this bylaw language would fit within the framework of recent tax changes.
Staff said it would.
At the beginning of 2019, the federal government enacted tax changes to no longer allow elected local government officials to get up to one-third of their annual income tax-free.
That third was previously not taxed because this money was intended to cover councillors' work expenses within their municipality.
In October last year, Squamish's previous council voted in favour of increasing the pay of the mayor and councillors to offset those tax increases imposed by the federal government.
This would ensure that the take-home pay of elected officials would stay the same after the tax increases went into effect. This increased the mayors' annual pay by $10,095 to a total of $85,421. Councillors's pay was bumped up by $4,098 to a total of $36,088.
Other local governments — such as the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Sea to Sky School District — enacted similar measures to address the tax increases.