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MVSD sets 2019-20 mill rate, approves budget

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The all too common combination of increasing costs and falling revenues drove decisions as Mountain View School Division (MVSD) prepared its 2019-20 draft budget.
At a public budget forum, Mar. 4, MVSD secretary-treasurer Bart Michaleski told those attending the meeting that working, “to maintain what we have” was the focus heading into the budgetting process.
“When we look at what this budget looks like, we really had expectations of trying to maintain status quo. So there’s not a lot of new things here that we’re looking at. We’re simply looking at trying to maintain what we have,” Michaleski said.
“So that was really our focus going into this year’s budget.”
To do that, the division is proposing a mill rate of 15.63, up from 15.34 last year. With a portioned assessment of just under $1.1 billion, the special levy will raise $13,623,457 of the division’s $42.366 million budget.
Assuming no increase in assessment from last year, the taxes on a residential property valued at $150,000 will see an increase of $19.03 while a plot of farmland with the same value will rise by $11 and commercial property by $27.49.
It represents a two per cent increase in the special requirement.
“That is what the province mandated as a limit for us to increase. And in looking at our budget we needed to provide for that full two per cent increase,” Michaleski said, adding the increase translates into an additional $461,138 in division coffers.
He added local education tax levels are offset somewhat by the Education Property Tax Credit, the Farmland Tax Rebate, the Seniors Education Property Tax Credit and the Seniors School Tax Rebate.
“Those pieces have been in place over time to try to mitigate some of those costs on our various ratepayers,” Michaleski said.
On top of the municipal taxation, the division’s budget is financed primarily through provincial funding of just under $27 million with other “minor” revenue streams from the federal government First Nations, other divisions and private organizations.
When the smoke cleared in the budgetting process, a decrease in provincial support of $20,642, a drop in tuition revenue of $73,564 and a decrease of $15,000 in miscellaneous revenue saw MVSD facing an overall income drop of $109,206.
“The province had a very similar announcement this year to the one they made last year. The difference was, what happened with us, was different than what happened last year. Last year we had an enrolment drop of 111 students, this year we were projecting an enrolment drop and we went up. So that had an impact on our funding from the province,” Michaleski said, adding the difference is less than 0.1 per cent of MVSD.
“When we were looking at our draft budget last year we were dealing with an expenditure reduction of $592,00. So it was a much better situation this year.”
On the expenditure side of the ledger MVSD was looking at a $390,536 increase in the area of salaries and benefits, driven mostly by contractual obligations and benefit changes. The number also included an increase in substitute teacher costs, but was mitigated somewhat by a reduction in bus driver salaries for routes that had been previously eliminated and a decision by trustees to freeze their indemnities for a third year in a row.
“There are contracts that have been approved and we need to account for those costs that we agreed to. And where there is no contracts we are obligated to follow the mandate set by the province,” Michaleski said, addling a decision was made to keep current teaching staff levels.
Another area of note is a $37,753 reduction in school instructional and supply budgets.
“It is resources in instructional budgets that schools can use to support classrooms, but you don’t need support in a classroom if you don’t have a teacher there,” Michaleski said.
“If we maintain the staffing side, it means we have to pull back a little on material and supply budgets.”
Also highlighted were an increase of $5,000 toward staff professional development, a small increase of just over $2,000 in the field trip budget, an increase of $16,000 in technology and software licensing and a cut of $,38,394 in material and supplies budgets.
Overall, expenditures are expected to increase $352,142.
“So when we look at the fact that additional staffing costs $390,000, it is the materials and supply budgets that were reduced to some extent to offset some of those costs,” Michaleski said.
Trustees approved the mill rate and passed the budget at their regular meeting Mar. 11.

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Staff Writer
REPORTER
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