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RETSD unveils preliminary budget

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The River East Transcona School Division is seeking feedback on its preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year.

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The River East Transcona School Division is seeking feedback on its preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year. Photo Store

The River East Transcona School Division unveiled its preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year at a meeting at Kildonan-East Collegiate on Jan. 29.

The division projected expenditures to increase by over $3.6 million next year, primarily as a result of increasing salaries and benefits, including government-regulated benefits like workers compensation, Canada Pension Plan, and employment insurance, making up approximately $3.3 million of the increase. Expenditures on services are set to account for the rest of the increase, while spending on supplies and materials, and capital and other expenses, are both set to decline slightly.

The preliminary budget was drafted based on the provincial government maintaining its same level of funding for the division in 2014-15 as it did in 2013-14. The division said it expected to find out how much funding it would receive from the province on Jan. 30, and RETSD secretary-treasurer/CFO Vince Mariani said he had received the information that afternoon.

The Formula Guarantee, which was worth more than $4.8 million for this year of school, could have had its framework changed by the province, which would have been the most likely culprit for any funding reduction. Mariani said in an email on Jan 30 that the guarantee, which guarantees at minimum the same level of funding as the previous year, appeared to still be in place, but he hadn’t had time to entirely review the document for any other changes at the time.

During the meeting, Mariani noted 2014 is a property reassessment year, and the early estimates predict a 13.5% increase in taxable property within divisional boundaries. This is a result of more property, as well as more valuable property, in the area. The last assessment was in 2012.

The division anticipates the mill rate, which is set by local municipalities, to be 13.665, which would be down from 14.590 in 2013. Mariani’s report anticipates the average home will be assessed at $247,000 this year, up from $220,000 the past two years. The end result is the average home will end up paying an extra $46 in school taxes this year, an increase of 3.3%.

Local residents are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposal, which can be viewed online at http://www.retsd.mb.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Draft%20budget%202014-15.pdf

In particular, the division would like residents to address whether services are meeting expectations for students — and what can be done if not. As well, it hopes to hear about local residents’ "top priorities or areas of emphasis," that should be considered when finalizing the budget.

Residents can provide feedback by emailing communications@retsd.mb.ca, through snail mail to the Board of Trustees, 589 Roch St., Winnipeg, MB, R2K 2P7 or sending a fax to 204-661-5618.

Mariani said the amount of feedback received varies from year to year, and often spikes in years where new initiatives are introduced.

The division must submit its tax requirements to the City of Winnipeg and the RM of East St. Paul by March 15, and the finalized budget must be submitted to the Department of Education by March 31.

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