Manitoba deficit battle includes warning to school boards on costs

Louis Riel School Division school taxes will go up about 3.5 per cent for 2018-2019. (Shutterstock/Syda Productions)

Mar 7 2019 – Various news articles and added commentary.

The Manitoba government’s 2019 – 2020 budget expected to require School Boards to keep tax increases at no more than 2% or face reductions of their Provincial administration funding from 2.7 to 2.4%.

The Province’s requirment to limit school tax increases to 2% is part of reducing the $800 Million annual deficit, eventually tackle the $24 Billion net debt and the $1 Billion in annual interest payments (not including Billions of dollars in MB Hydro debt).

The Winnipeg School Division like the others were warned of this coming but are now calling for an emergency meeting with the Premier to discuss, yet annual compensation disclosure reports indicate out of control spending on bureaucracy in their and many other divisions. The ratio of superintendents to students and their salaries are well above Canadian average and pay raises many times the rate of inflation. Worst of all average education scores in MB are amoung the lowest in Canada. More on the details of this here.

The Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen chastised the division last month on Twitter for the size of its bureaucracy.

Reply from @MarkWasyliwSchool Trustee Winnipeg School Division, Lawyer:

“the WSD is tied among school divisions for the LOWEST admin costs of 2.7%. Tell me minister what is the admin costs in your dept? Less than 2.7% ? i don’t think so. Lowest admin costs of any major govt in MB.”

Goertzen’s responses:

To above reply on Twitter:

“Of your 2,909 employees who make 50 k or more, 6.8% of those make 100k or more. #MBPoli”

In the media yesterday:
“I’m not going to run to have an emergency meeting about an emergency that they’ve created that nobody else seems to be having,”

Wasyliw makes a good point about the admin spending in the Minister’s department as the PC’s have not been leading by example with cutting their own bureaucracy as much as they need to. They froze salaries of most Provincial public servants except elected and appointed officials, justices and a limited number of others, for two years and less than inflation for two more.

He ignores the fact their bureaucracy is still unbalanced and unsustainable. What are they not spending on to maintain that high number of superintendents and salaries?

Winnipeg School Board and Division are not the only one with bloated bureaucracy. Why was nothing said or done when Louis Riel school board raised school taxes by 3.89% in 2017-18 and then planned for $3.5% in 2018-19? Because most homeowners in the division can afford it and the board and division will manage with the Provincial funding reduction if enforced? What about the homeowners that are already stretched to the limits at no fault to their own?

Last year homeowners saw school tax increases in Louis Riel and Seine River school divisions by up to 4.35% and plans for up to 3.5% this year. [Similar in other divisions but Winnipeg One didn’t increase last year.]

The planned LRSD increase this year equates to about $66 per average homeowner and $76 in Seine River.

CBC News

March 14, 2018

— Added Commentary —

More on the context of the Province’s requirment to limit school tax increases to 2%.

As mentioned above it is part of reducing the $800 Million annual deficit, eventually tackling the $24 Billion net debt and the $1 Billion in annual interest payments. This not including the over $10 Billions in MB Hydro debt that forecasted to rise to over $25 Billion in a few years.

The current Pallister led PC majority government has reduced the annual deficit from about $1 Billion (that they inherited from the previous Selinger led NDP majority government & Pallister led PC’s in the official opposition) by about $200 Million or more each year. They forecasting it will be reduced below $400 Million during the fourth year of their term (the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year) and if given another term balanced by the end of that.

That all sounds nice but what about the $24 Billion in debt debt and MB Hydro debt expected to rise to similar amount within a few year?

As part of the fiscal responsibility and taxpayer protection legislation they enacted after taking office the Ministers required to reduce the deficit by at least $100M or face up to 20% of their Ministerial pay withheld or forfeited if no reduction. This increases to 40% if a second year of no reduction. Previously they would lose 20% if there was any deficit.

More information of this and related:

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things that I think are a matter of public interest or that I think others will be interested in
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