Winnipeg School Division early draft budget eyes 5.1% education tax hike
Officials to have further discussions toward finalizing draft budget
The Winnipeg School Division's board of trustees met on Monday night to discuss an early draft of its 2016-17 budget, which currently proposes raising education taxes by 5.1 per cent.
The proposed increase in the education portion of property taxes is far from decided, and officials will be consulting stakeholders on the budget in the coming weeks.
If approved, the increase would work out to about $64 more on a home with an average assessed value of $203,900, provided the province's education property tax credit is factored in, according to a budget document posted on the division's website.
Chris Broughton, the division's finance committee chair, said after Monday's meeting that there will be further discussions toward finalizing the draft budget, which is expected to be released next week.
The division raised education taxes by 3.2 per cent last year.
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In a news release issued earlier on Monday, the division said public school funding has increased in this budget by one per cent, or $1.8 million, which is less than the rate of economic growth.
As well, the school division said it has less in corporate tax revenues "as the result of tax incentives for downtown businesses."
Broughton said public funding from the Manitoba government was lower than expected this year, at a time when the division's costs are going up.
He added that over the coming days, serious conversations will need to take place with stakeholders about how to fund education in the division.
Broughton said the Winnipeg School Division's budget includes everything from class materials to salaries to having police officers in schools.
"Those aren't typically associated with education and so we have to really have an intelligent conversation about, you know, reducing the barriers to education and delivering the best budget that does that with the ratepayers in mind," Broughton said at Monday's board meeting.
Officials will hold four budget consultation meetings on Feb. 3, 4, 9 and 10. The public is also invited to a budget meeting of the board of trustees on Feb. 22.
Once the budget is passed by the finance committee, it will go on to the board as a whole, which will have to make a final decision by March 14.
Late last year, the Winnipeg School Division asked parents and staff to help identify $14 million in cost savings so it would not have to raise education taxes.