With the provincial government strongly suggesting Manitoba School Divisions cap education property taxes at 2% for the upcoming school year, the Garden Valley School division (GVSD) is raising their special requirement by only 1%.
At its meeting Tuesday, the board approved a total operating budget of $51,528,600, an increase of just under $1.5 million from the current year's budget.
The mill rate, which is applied to a homes assessed value to determine education property taxes, is dropping from 15.99 to 15.08. That will result in reduced education taxes for homeowners and businesses, however, due to higher assessed values, farmland taxes will be going up. "Due to the reassessment year, they (farmland owners) aren't as fortunate, but it will still be less than it could be," said Board Chair Laurie Dyck. "The board has decided to only take 1% higher versus the 2% the government was strongly encouraging us to maintain in asking for the special requirement."
For a homeowner with a house assessed at $250,000 education taxes will go down around $35, commercial properties assessed at $500,000 will drop by $65, and with a 24% increase in assessed value for farmland, taxes for a 160-acre farm valued at $1,591,600 will go up by $918.
Dyck said their ability to only raise taxes by 1% boils down to enrolment growth and growth within the communities of Garden Valley School Division. "The growth of our division as far as people moving in and businesses being set up, that plays into how we share the tax load in the area," said Dyck. She added the re-assessment of all the properties and enrolment growth also plays into the increase in funds for the division.
Dyck notes the board has carried its full 4% allowable surplus the past two years, and this year they have intentionally drawn their surplus down. The board drew just over $445,000 from its surplus funds, which also played a role in allowing them to keep the special requirement at 1%.
The 2018/2019 budget includes some additional spending, including the hiring of a second numeracy coordinator, and $200,000 set aside for the new Pine Ridge Elementary School, and $274,000 for the bus reserve fund.
Unlike some other neighbouring school division's who had the tough task of cutting staffing and programs, the Garden Valley School Division was in better position in assembling its budget for 2018/19. "We're very aware that we have neighbouring divisions across the province that are dealing with significant issues in how to meet a budget, and how to stay within the admin cap, and how to stay within the 2% increase on the special requirement," said Dyck. She said the board recognizes they had a surplus to draw from this year, but they will not be able to maintain that kind of a draw over the years to come. "This year we're fortunate that we had the ability to do that...we're thinking the decisions will be much tougher next year."