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MVSD presents draft budget

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Maintaining the special levy at 2020 values while balancing an assessment increase of $8,427,250 means ratepayers in Mountain View School Division (MVSD) will see a reduction in the mill rate.
The need to maintain the special levy revenue is a requirement of a provincial Property Tax Offset grant of $354,984.
“When we look at the special levy the decisions were made for us this year, so the mill rate has been set,” MVSD secretary-treasurer Bart Michaleski said during a budget presentation forum Mar. 1.
“They are not allowing us to increase our levy any more than the 2020 level. So in 2021 the levy remains the same $17,456,000.
“In many ways it is similar to what they have done in the last couple of years where they have capped our increase on the special requirement at two per cent. They have been capping and limiting our ability to raise taxes for three or four years now. But this year they have made the determination that the levy will be unchanged from the prior year.”
Overall the mill rate in 2021-22 will drop to 14.62 from 14.73 the previous year, a decrease of 0.71 per cent.
The 0.7 per cent increase in assessment was calculated as .4 per cent on farmland, 1.1 per cent on residential properties and .2 per cent on commercial properties.
“So it is very, very small changes,” Michaleski said.
In practical terms, the change means properties assessed at $150,000 will see a tax decrease of $7.04 on residential property, $4.04 on farmland and $10.14 on commercial properties.
On top of the municipal taxation, the division’s budget is financed through provincial funding of $27.7 million with other revenue coming from the federal government, First Nations, other divisions and private organizations.
Overall revenue of $43,801,043 has been budgetted for 2021-22, an increase of $727,557 from last year, while expenditures have been budgetted at $43,183,763 and increase of $1,106,627 budget to budget from 2020-21.
Following a transfer to the Capital Fund of $996,350, the division is staring at a deficit of $379,070.
“A $379,000 deficit that we do need to address before we can approve the budget and provide it for submission,” Michaleski said.
On the revenue side of the ledger highlights budget-to-budget provincial funding increase of $393,335 including formula support increases in equalization and special needs and a General Support Grant increase. Other provincial funding changes include the Property Tax Offset funding of $354,984 to maintain the Special Levy at 2020 levels.
“By all accounts that is a pretty good increase,” Michaleski said.
“Compared to some divisions and some of the dollars that they are having to work with, we did fairly well in this funding announcement.”
Also highlighted in revenues is a decrease in tuition fee revenue of $80,216 and an increase in Miscellaneous Revenue of approximately $17,500.
On the expenditure side, with staff costs totaling approximately 82.4 per cent of operating expenditure, Michaleski said almost all budget discussions involve a review of staffing needs. The draft budget included salary and benefit increases of $1,209,359. Changes came in the area of contractual obligations and benefits with the current teaching staff levels to be maintained.
Additionally the budget increases educational assistant time of 20 hours per day while the .6 full time equivalent Homestay Manager was removed from the budget until the International Student Program rebounds and trustee indemnities were frozen for the fifth year.
In other areas, school instructional and supply budgets were reduced by $14,126; tuition costs for students attending school out of the division are up $10,000; the International Student Program budget was reduced by $38,470; staff professional development costs went up i$10,500; technology connectivity costs decreased by $72,250; the total materials, supplies and utilities budget increased a total of $26,014; and interest costs on current and long-term debt decreased by $20,000.
“Going into this we certainly looked at trying to maintain things on a status quo basis where possible. And so we didn’t look to make any significant reductions in school instructional budgets,” Michaleski said.
“The reductions that are there are either enrolment based or they are based on specific grants that we no longer qualify for.”
The board hopes to finalize and approve the budget at it Mar. 22 regular meeting.