Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Education tax reform needed: groups

  • Print

Rising education taxes across the city and much of the province are prompting a renewal of calls to remove education taxes off of homeowners’ property tax bills.


Let’s Pay Fair, a campaign coalition of some 40 groups representing realtors, cottagers, farmers and business groups, believe trustees should have fought harder for increased funding from the province to avoid the increases.


"The taxpayer is caught in the middle of rising education costs and increased municipal tax costs because of crumbling infrastructure everywhere," said Lorne Weiss, immediate past president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association, one of the group’s involved in the coalition.


All divisions across Winnipeg will see tax increases — from a modest $40 in River East-Transcona and St. James-Assiniboia, to steeper increases of $102 and $76 in the Seven Oaks and Winnipeg school divisions, respectively.


Weiss said education is a core provincial service and should be funded through general revenue, not complicated funding formulas tied to assessed property values and collected by the city.


Although Weiss acknowledged the change might not result in homeowners saving money, it would simplify the process and alleviate such fluctuations.


"We recognize that it can’t be done overnight," Weiss said. "We’re advocating that in the interim, the province levies a province wide mill-rate, so everyone is paying the same, with a gradual move to 100% funding from general revenue."


Although the province announced an increase of $25.5 million in operating grants this year, only two city school divisions received more funding.


That makes the budgeting process harder, especially when enrolment spikes, said WSD chair Kristine Barr. The division saw enrolment increase by 2.5% and expenditures jump 4.6%, she said.


 "The only way we could maintain existing programs and services and continue to provide quality programming was to impose an increase," she said.


Bruce Chegus, chair of the St. James-Assiniboia board of trustees, said divisions must have some taxing authority to maintain autonomy and fund the particular needs of each division for programs such as language classes or the arts.


"Historically, the local taxpayer only participated in overall education tax based on funding local needs," Chegus said.


The division believes the current funding system is overly reliant on property tax and is lobbying for 80% provincial funding for operating costs, with 20% coming from local property taxes. In 1985, provincial funding accounted for 73% of operating costs. For 2012-13, it accounts for only 59.5%, he said.


 "As it is, we’ve been forced to look to local taxpayers for basic operating costs which we argue the province should cover," he said.


The MREA recently passed a motion asking the province to move toward amalgamating school divisions.


"When you compare us to cities of equal or larger size, they only have one school division.

Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Toronto," he said. "We have a huge duplication of costs."

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

If the NHL expands into Las Vegas, will you go to see the Jets there?

View Results