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TIG and the non-freeze freeze

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It’s less than three weeks since school boards submitted their mill rates, so you’ll never know when we might hear about another catch in the tax incentive grants.

If you read my story the other day, you’ll know that the province allows school boards which accept TIG to increase education property taxes, even though divisions which get the TIG have to agree not to raise school property taxes.

Hang on, I’ll surf the web for a while to give you a chance to digest that..........

TIG has been around for three budget years now. I’ve made a good living here writing about all the catches that dribbled out about it the first two years, but it was looking ominously straightforward for a while this year.

The idea was that the province would put up extra money over and above the normal operating grants, if trustees agreed to freeze taxes. Spending would increase only by TIG and the increase in operating grants. Money collected through property taxes could increase only by the levy on any new properties paying taxes for the first time.

So the mill rate stayed the same, and your tax bill would be the same.

You remember how to do mill rates, right? The amount of money to be raised through property taxes, divided by the assessment base, easy reckoning.

But this year we had reassessment, properties went up in value an average of 73 per cent. The taxes collected are supposed to be constant, but the assessment base was 1.73 times bigger, so therefore smaller mill rates. Still with me?

So as I learned through Pembina Trails School Division’s being forthright about all this confusion, because mill rates couldn’t be kept the same this year, the province allowed a school division to accept TIG, while raking in an increase to the amount of money colected through school property taxes.

Good eye — yes, counterintuitive would cover it, if you’re being charitable.

The province allowed school divisions to increase the amount of school property taxes in a tax freeze year by the average amount of tax money produced by new properties from 2006 through 2009, which, in Pembina Trails, is $33 on an average house now assessed at a value of $290,000.

Yes, I said $290,000 is the average, let’s keep on track here.

Aren’t you glad I paid attention in Mr. Somerville’s algebra class in Grade 10 in 1962 and can follow this math?

And, as ever, is this the way we should be funding public education in Manitoba?

Whoops, better start jumping from frivolous topic to inane observation before I lose you.......

I have to keep reminding myself that this is school break week. Yes, I know, it was all over the news and I’m supposed to keep track of education stuff, but when your kids are both at university after 17 years of having them in school........

Moving along.....

Guy emailed me last week to say that my formula for calculating school taxes for a reassessed house was way out of whack, says his are going up 304 per cent.

Guy says if I can show him that he’s not going to have to pay that much, he’ll renew his subscription to the dead trees edition for a year.

So I show him where he went wrong, I calculated his tax bill, and it’s only up about 30 bucks — their reasessed value is higher than average, and his division increased taxes.

And that’s the last I’ve heard from him.

BTW, faithful reader, when we were exchanging emails, did I mention that Tony Soprano owes me a couple of favours?

In another topic........

Al Gore and David Suzuki called to ask me if it was true that I’d gone running on Wellington Crescent in both November and March, in shorts, without leggings or toque or mitts, and I allowed as how I had.

And in a flawless segue......

Still waiting to hear what the prime minister bet with Barack on the gold medal women’s hockey game. I mean, like, you know, surely, eh?

Wow, I have such a short attention span today......

Everyone’s noticed, of course, the joy in Leafs Nation, that we’re smitten with The Monster and Kessel and Bozak and Kulemin, and Luke’s coming along nicely, and that the Dion Phaneuf trade has to be the best trade for the Leafs since Dougie went east....not quite a steal on the scale of the Marc Reaume for Red Kelly trade — we gave up a good young player for Phaneuf in Steinbach’s own Ian White, after all, and wouldn’t Marc Reaume be a top-four-D on most teams nowadays, though I digress — but we grasp at the merest of straws in Leafs Nation.

And it goes without saying that everyone noted that Newcastle United took Nottingham Forest 2-nil Monday to go four points clear on West Bromwich Albion with a game in hand, and more importantly, are 13 points clear on Notts Forest with a game in hand and close to clinching automatic promotion back to the Premiership.

Sorry, you came here for education stuff, let’s work in a school reference......

Really disappointing call from the city this week. The Leisure Guide recreational volleyball program eight-week session at Carpathia School has been cancelled because not enough people signed up in time. It was to start next Wednesday night.

I’ve had such a good time over the last couple of years, three sessions a year, 24 Wednesdays of two hours of volleyball. I never played organized volleyball, but I learned from watching my kids play at high levels — yeah, just like I can hit a curve ball because I watched Tony Gwynn or George Brett.....right — and I had a really good time.

Come April and May, the numbers go down, and this spring there just weren’t enough.

Sam, it’ll be offered at Carpathia School again in September, right? Johnny O, you’ll have a word with the rec department? The fall session would last through the municipal election, one’s got nothing to do with the other, eh, but I’m just saying.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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