Next week, Winnipeg School Division will hold its annual public budget meeting to discuss a school tax increase. Based on projections, it will be a small increase to cover what is deemed necessary expenditure and to ensure there are no curriculum or staff cuts.
The bottom line is property owners in this school division — also taxpayers in other Winnipeg-based school divisions — will be asked to again reach deeper into their pockets to pay for the projected rise in K-12 education. This happens every year, despite the provincial government’s continual increase in grants to school divisions.
In 2006, over half of all property tax collected in Winnipeg went to pay for education. What will be the percentage increase for 2007?
Funding education through property taxes is not just a Winnipeg issue — rural Manitobans should be just as concerned. The two commentaries below give the rural perspective on the issue.
by the Keystone Agricultural Producers
Would you want to pay up to eight times more for something than your neighbour? This question is at the heart of the reason Manitoba’s farmers have joined the Education Finance Coalition. (The Manitoba Real Estate Association is co-ordinating the coalition and the WinnipegREALTORS® Association is a member.)
A few years ago, most farm families were paying four to eight times more in education taxes than a non-farming neighbour because the current system is a carry-over from the time there was a homestead on every parcel of land. But, as farms grew, the load of taxes increased to a level that was piled too high for farmers to carry.
Farmers are taxed on their homes, taxed on their land, and taxed on their production buildings like barns. The current system simply does not reflect
a farmer’s ability to pay. Seniors, young families,
business owners, and farmers all struggle to keep
education adequately funded at the expense of their properties and businesses because, in many cases, they are being taxed on debt.
There is a rebate in place today to help lessen the financial burden, but a rebate isn’t a long-term solution. Manitoba’s farmers want everyone to invest fairly in education, while ensuring that a good education system is available to rural and urban children alike. That’s why we support the letspayfair.com campaign, and will continue to work with our partners to shift education taxes off property
Manitoba’s approach to fighting
by Kevin Hursh
A year ago at this time, a rural tax revolt was underway in Saskatchewan. Many rural municipalities were withholding the education portion of property taxes. Eventually the protest made a difference.
On March 3, the provincial government announced an additional $53 million in education property tax relief on agricultural land. It was called sustainable, ongoing funding. The tax revolt ended.
While welcome, the extra money doesn’t solve the problem. School boards are likely to continue raising mill rates to make up for financial shortfalls. It’s interesting to see what’s happening in Manitoba. As a result of lobbying by farm groups, Manitoba now gives back 60 per cent of the education taxes that farmers pay on their land.
While that’s a lot better deal than we’re getting in Saskatchewan, the Manitoba lobby effort is now taking a different tact. Keystone Agricultural Producers, the umbrella farm group in the province, has teamed up with non-agricultural groups to push for the complete removal of education taxes on property.
They (KAP in association with MREA and other coalition members such as the WinnipegREALTORS® Association) have a website with an explanation as to why the taxation is unfair and outdated. The website is www.letspayfair.com.
It’s an approach we should consider here in Saskatchewan.