Taxes are going up for ratepayers within the Hanover School Division.
At a regular board meeting on Tuesday, council passed a 0.16% tax increase. This means the average home assessed at $250,000 will be paying an additional $2 for the 2019-2020 school year.
Chair of Finance Rick Peters explains that this increase, coupled with the provincial government’s 1.6% increase in funding, still left the division with grossly insufficient funds.
“We expect to collect an addition $1.5 million between what the province gives us and our local taxation,” states Peters, “however our operational needs were closer to $3 million so simple math says we have to reduce spending.”
In light of this, the calculated deficit was $1,530,200. Peters notes part of this is due to two huge additional expenses in this year’s budget including the operating costs of the new Niverville high school and a significant rise in French education fees to be paid to other divisions. Both expenditures exceed half a million dollars.
With this deficit in mind, Peters says the division was forced to cut spending. They chose to axe funds mainly from their transportation and maintenance budgets.
Peters notes that this cut will not look significant to the general public eye, but says it means having less new school buses and postponing basic projects like paint jobs and office renovations.
“We made every effort to protect the learning that is going on,” stresses Peters, “we did not want to impact that.”
Even with these budget cuts, the division was forced to take an additional $320,000 of surplus funds.
“It’s been a tougher budget than we’ve had in many years,” said Board Chair Ron Falk as he addressed his fellow trustees. “It will be nice to get this behind us and I thank you all for your hard work.”
The official budget for the 2019-2020 school year totals $92.1 million dollars.