Wednesday, 12 February 2014 15:56

Sask. property tax idea not feasible

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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has recently been “floating a trial balloon” about raising the education portion of property taxes in Saskatchewan.
Education property tax mill rates for all classes of property have remained unchanged since 2009 when the provincial government removed the right of locally-elected boards of education to set local mill rates and assumed this responsibility themselves.
It may well be time to turn to this source of revenue. Providing high-quality education for every Saskatchewan student is goal number one for school boards and is a key component of the government’s Plan for Growth.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association, however, is concerned the Premier’s comments may infer that this revenue could be used to address issues other than those related to education, for example, municipal infrastructure.
It should be noted school boards are currently facing an almost $700 million backlog in education infrastructure funding.
Before 2009, boards had the right and obligation to go to their local taxpayers to ensure students had the safe and healthy facilities they needed to live and learn.
Since boards no longer have that ability, the ball rests in the hands of government. We respectfully submit if education property taxes are to be sourced, these funds should be devoted to meeting the pressing operational and capital funding needs of K-12 education in Saskatchewan.
Janet Foord, President, Saskatchewan School Boards Association, Estevan, Sask.

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