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Assessment up, mill rate down in MVSD budget

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An increase in property assessment throughout the division has allowed Mountain View School Division to lower its mill rate while still meeting the obligations laid out in its 2020-21 operating budget.
At a public budget forum, Mar. 2, MVSD secretary-treasurer Bart Michaleski told those present at the school division office and those watching an internet broadcast of the proceedings the portioned assessment in the division increased from just over $1.087 billion in 2019 to slightly more than $1.185 billion this year, an increase of nine per cent.
“Once again farmland property assessment has seen the largest increase, on average by 16.2 per cent, residential up 4.1 per cent and commercial 7.5 per cent,” Michaleski said.
That has allowed MVSD to lower its taxation rate from 15.63 mills last year to 14.73 mills this year. That rate will raise a special levy of $17,456,098 in 2020.
What that means for property owners depends on their new assessments. Ratepayers with residential, farmland or commercial properties will actually see a decrease in their tax bill if their assessement rose by less than six per cent over last year.
“The likelihood that your assessment didn’t change is highly unlikely. But if your property assessment didn’t change from 2019 to 2020 then your taxes are going to go down,” Michaleski said.
“But even if your property assessment went up five per cent your taxes will still go down. It’s once you get beyond five per cent, I think six per cent is about the percentage, if your assessment went up more than six per cent, then you’ll start to see a little bit of an increase.”
For properties assessed at $150,000, five per cent increase in assessment from 2019 means a tax decrease of $11.04 on residential property, $6.38 on farmland and $15,94 on commercial properties. Assuming no increase in assessment whatsoever, those same properties would see a reduction in taxes of $60.74, $35.09 and $87.73, respectively.
A 10 per cent increase in assessment would mean a tax increase of $38.66 on residential, $22.34 on farmland and $55.85 on commercial property.
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.
On top of the municipal taxation, the division’s budget is financed through provincial funding of just over $27 million with other revenue coming from the federal government, First Nations, other divisions and private organizations.
“Obviously the funding formula is the biggest piece. Municipal revenue is the next largest source at 32.2 per cent. And in the last three or four budgets those numbers have shifted slightly where we're getting slightly less from the provincial government and municipalities are footing a little bit more of the bill,” Michaleski said.
“And that is simply because our funding announcements the last four years have been very, very tough. The increases have been very small, where there have been increases.”
In all, income of $43,073,486 has been budgetted for in 2020-21.
On the expenditure side of the balanced budget, decisions focused on frontline staffing needs and 92 per cent of all expenditure increases focusses staffing costs in the areas of contract and benefit changes, maintaining staffing levels in all areas and the addition of three full-time equivalent teachng positions to counter enrolment increases.
“One thing we can say about the last number of years is that our enrolment has been a little volatile and it has not been as easy to predict,” Michaleski said.
“When we look at 2017, we were expecting a drop of 47 students and we had a drop of 111. So significantly different than what we projected. September of 2018 we had projected our enrolment would drop a further 24 students and we increased by 49. And then in September of this year we had projected our enrolment would go up 13 and it went up about 80. And so it hasn't been as easy to predict enrolments. Positive, obviously, is that we’re projecting a small increase for 2020. If that were to occur, we’d be up 140 students over the course of three years and that’s very positive.”
Other highlights of projected expenditures include the freezing of trustee indemnities for the fourth year, reductions of school instructional and supply budgets totalling $33,428, an upgrade to internet bandwidth in schools costing $72,250, a reduction in furniture purchasing and resources for maintenance projects of $70,000, a $123,875 increase in expenditures for bus maintenace parts, fuel and building utilities, consolidation of the Winnipegosis and Dauphin bus garage facilities reducing costs by $33,300 and minor increases in staff professional development and field trip budgets.
In total, Materials/Supplies budgets are increasing $57,966 and overall budget expenditures are up $708,726.
Trustees approved the mill rate and passed the budget at their regular meeting Mar. 9.