Property taxes increased as part of Louis Riel School Division draft budget

WINNIPEG — The Louis Riel School Division said a 0.9 per cent decrease in provincial funding has caused property taxes to go up in its 2020/21 draft budget.

According to a news release, to help reduce the impact of the funding decrease, the board of trustees is considering a two per cent increase to the special requirement, which would result in a 1.12 per cent increase to property taxes. This amounts to $22.56 a year on the average home in the area valued at $343,700.

The board of trustees proposes a total budget of $196,265,953.

“Unfortunately, the decrease in funding from the province is not keeping up with the cost of living or enrolment that is projected to increase by 216 students to reach 16,004 in 2020-2021,” said Pamela Kolochuk, finance and audit committee chair for the board of trustees.

“In this fourth year of funding restraints, we face very difficult decisions to achieve a balanced budget.” 

The school division said that in order to achieve a balanced budget that protects teachers and educational assistants, it will have to consider some cost-saving measures including reductions to “staffing furthest from the classroom, operating expenses and repairs to facilities.”

“Overall, the budget will increase by 0.97 per cent, but taking into account the cost of living and projected enrolment increases, we will need to make sacrifices to protect what is at the core of all we do—student learning and well-becoming,” said Christian Michalik, the school division’s superintendent.

The school board noted some other highlights in the draft budget, including the allocation of $487,000 for a full-day kindergarten pilot project; $1.6 million for Indigenous education; and $350,000 for an additional 5.65 increase in full-time equivalent teachers. 

“We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our core investments,” said Sandy Nemeth, chair of the board of trustees. 

“This means no increases in overall class sizes and no reductions in the number of teachers or educational assistants.”