Winnipeg’s largest school division is turning to taxpayers again to help pay the bills.
The Winnipeg School Division approved a 3.3 per cent rate hike on Monday night. The increase translates to roughly an extra $45 per year for residents.
The final budget approved by the Board of Trustees includes expenditures of $410,984,800 for the fiscal period July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
Part of that money is being allocated to cover massive maintenance costs needed at schools throughout the division.
“It’s quite extensive the type of improvements we need across the division,” WSD Finance Chair Chris Broughton said.
“Everything from sanitary lines to fire alarm systems that need to be upgraded… the replacement of windows (and) the expansion of some of our very old buildings to accommodate accessibility.”
A report released last week shows the division is facing nearly $261 million in deferred maintenance costs including over $31 million needed to meet the province’s accessibility rules.
PHOTO GALLERY: images of maintenance issues found in some WSD schools, as detailed in the report
“The standards to which these buildings were built to over 100 years ago are very different from today,” he said.
Adding to the budget woes is the province’s Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green plan — which sets a flat carbon emissions tax of $25 per tonne starting this year.
The new carbon plan will leave the WSD with nearly $400,000 in additional taxes.
“That’s money that we are not investing in education,” Broughton said.
“That we are paying another tax with. I’m not sure ratepayers are interested in paying tax on a tax but that’s the situation we are left with.”
It’s a situation the division fears will only get worse as it struggles to upgrade its aging infrastructure.
“The reality is our buildings are very old,” Broughton said. “The idea behind a carbon tax is (an incentive) to modernize to more efficient equipment. But a lot of that equipment we simply cant afford to upgrade.”
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