Possible new education tax concerns boards

It's just a line in a report right now, but the Saskatchewan government is studying the possibility of a major change to how kindergarten-to-Grade 12 schools are financed.

It's just a line in a reportright now, but the Saskatchewan government isstudying the possibility ofa major change to howkindergarten-to-Grade 12 schools are financed.

For years, local governments and school boards have complained that property owners are shouldering an unfair share of education costs. Property taxes pay for about 60 per cent of school costs and general government revenues cover for the rest.

However, according to a government document, the province is considering introducing a single, provincewide education property tax.

A request for proposal document prepared for the government's property management department provides few details, but says it is a potential move.

If implemented, it would likely involve taking taxation authority away from school boards, a change that concerns the provincial school boards association.The associationwants the province to tackle concerns about education property taxes without taking over the system.

"If the province takes over, it hasn't eliminated property taxes," said Bill Wells, executive director of theSaskatchewan School Boards Association. "It just means that now the provincial government is in the property tax game as well. That doesn't produce an extra nickel of money for k-to-12 education."

Wells said he hopes the province follows up recent announcements on other tax issues with a fair resolution to the education tax problem.

"A better split in funding… instead of being 40-60, that it be 60-40," Wells said.

The government has pledged to try to move toward the 60-40 split.

Finance Minister Andrew Thomson and Learning Minister Deb Higgins have agreed to meet with members of a tax coalition to talk about education tax concerns. That could happen later this month.