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Hanover cuts costs facing limited funding

Small mill rate increase approved

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 03/6/2019 4:00 PM

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Hanover School Division trustees unanimously approved a $92.1 million budget for the 2019-20 school year on Tuesday night.

The division’s mill rate will increase from 15.14 to 15.17 mills, an approximate 0.16 percent tax increase.

Board finance chair Rick Peters said a sample house assessed at $250,000 will see a taxation increase of approximately $2.

Peters told The Carillon this year’s budget deliberations have been especially difficult as the division had found itself limited in its funding but faced with growing needs.

"In past years we have always had the funds to facilitate growth and take care of those needs…this year we had to make some decisions that weren’t like we normally do," he said.

This year the division received a funding increase of $761,400 from the province. Additionally, the province has mandated that local tax increases are capped for the second year in a row at 2 percent, meaning increased tax revenue has been calculated at $694,000.

Those combined sources of revenue give the division an additional $1,530,200 for the next school year, with operational costs projected to rise by $2,986,000.

The division noted that significant expenditures in the coming year include an annual operating cost of $550,100 for the new Niverville High School, and an increase of $511,100 for French education fees paid to other school divisions. Funds are also included to address instructional staff for enrollment growth, collective bargaining agreements, utilities, property insurance, IT infrastructure, and the addition of one reading clinician.

To address its deficit position, Peters noted Hanover will reduce expenditures in transportation by $340,000, by opting to purchase only three new buses rather than six new additions to its fleet.

School maintenance costs will also be reduced by $500,000.

"We’ve always kept up with our building and maintenance well and we’re not going to lag this year, but some of those things that schools might want are not going to happen," Peters conceded.

Another $370,200 has been flagged for reductions through the elimination of existing divisional programs and services.

He declined to go into the specifics of those budget cuts on Tuesday night.

"We have some people we need to talk to first," he said.

"There are a number of pieces. What I will say is that there is nothing that is going to impact learning in the classrooms. We needed to protect that, we did protect that, and we will continue to protect that."

A final $320,000 will be found by dipping into the division’s surplus.

Peters suggested that the province’s recently launched education commission will need to touch on education financing as part of its mission, as he questioned the long-term viability of current funding restrictions.

"We wouldn’t be able to sustain our division with a continuation of doing this obviously," he said.

"We’d have to make some changes if the province should choose to continue down this path."

Update: Corrects reference to used bus purchases. Buses acquired as part of 2019-20 budget will all be new.

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