Winnipeg’s largest school division is facing a tough dilemma without much time to solve it.
The options: Raise your taxes or make some big cuts.
The Winnipeg School Division has been left with a shortfall of about $5.5 million dollars. Finance Chair Chris Broughton says they just got some last minute commercial tax assessment numbers from the city and they paint a grim picture.
“Very late in the budget development process, the city sent us updated property tax assessment values showing significant changes as a result of appeals. We’re seeing $160 million dollars of lost property tax value.”
Broughton says the city usually gets it’s numbers in much earlier and they’ve never seen this type of last minute change in the math.
He says they’re now in a bad spot because they need to have their budget passed by March 15th.
They’re now looking at a tax increase of 6.4 per cent. That would translate to about $80 dollars more this year for the average family in the division.
Broughton says he understands families may be frustrated but the other option isn’t good either.
“Either a property tax increase or we have to go looking for $5.5 million in our budget. That really equates to 60 teachers that we would need to cut to find those savings.”
Board Chair Mark Wasyliw spoke with Winnipeg’s Morning News and says it’s the system that needs to change.
“This is no way to pay for an education system,” Wasyliw said.
“We have to have a serious discussion in Manitoba of finding a different way without property taxes to pay for our education system, this can’t keep happening.”
Nearly every school division in the city is proposing some kind of increase in the school tax portion of your property taxes.
All Winnipeggers are still looking at the 2.33 per cent property tax increase planned in the city’s 2016 budget plus a whopping 25 per cent hike in frontage fees.