Sask. premier hints at hike in education property tax

Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is contemplating rebalancing the way education is funded in the province.

The education property tax is one of the plethora of programs under review as the province comes to grips with a $700 million reduction in oil revenues.

“Everything has to be on the table as we work towards a balanced budget for the province of Saskatchewan,” Wall told delegates attending the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities’ 2015 annual convention.

Prior to the Saskatchewan Party taking office in 2007, taxpayers were paying 60 percent of education costs, with the province picking up the remaining 40 percent.

That was flip-flopped in 2010 as the government introduced the largest education property tax reduction in the province’s history. There was also a 75 to 80 percent reduction in property taxes on farmland.

Five years later, education costs have escalated due to more teachers, higher salaries and new schools.

The higher costs have changed the ratio, with the province now paying two-thirds of the bill and taxpayers picking up the remaining one-third.

Wall said the province would never revert back to the days when taxpayers were picking up 60 percent of the tab, but it might be time to consider getting back to the 2010 ratio where they were paying 40 percent.

“That’s one of the options that we’re looking at in a tough budget,” he later told reporters.

That doesn’t sit well with SARM acting-president Ray Orb.

“We’re not going back on education tax,” he said.

“There’s no discussion on education tax.”

Orb said education property tax reform was such a long process and such a politically sensitive issue that he doubts the province will tinker with the formula.

“I’m quite confident they won’t touch the property tax on education,” he said.


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