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Property taxes for Morden homeowners could spike next year

Homeowners in Morden could see a hefty hike in their property taxes next year with a proposed increase of 17 per cent.

“That’s a lot of increase, especially for people on a fixed income,” said Elaine Ward, a Morden resident.

The Western School Division board approved the increase earlier this year.

“We’re not looking to get rich,” said Brian Fransen, chair of the Western School Division Board of Trustees. “We’re looking to operate our school division as we need to.”

Operations like opening a brand new school to keep pace with growth in the community, and its student population.

“In our first year of operation, we do not receive funding for operation of a new school. So that means that all of our operating costs need to be put on our local tax base,” said Fransen.

The Western School Division isn’t the only one raising property taxes in its 2024 to 2025 budget.

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Louis Riel School Division is proposing a 7.5 per cent tax increase. The Winnipeg School Division is vying for a 3.4 percent raise, while Pembina Trails is aiming for a three per cent hike.

“When you let all these school divisions raise taxes like this, it’s not just making the local ratepayers pay more. It’s making everyone pay more,” said Gage Haubrich, prairie director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Under the previous government, school divisions were capped at two per cent increases year-over-year. Now that there’s no mandated limit, experts say that could cause property tax problems.

“They don’t take into account how much money you make, your ability to pay,” said Haubrich. “It only takes into account how much the government deems your house is worth and then the tax rate so it hurts a lot of people.”

The PC’s said they aren’t surprised and are calling on the province to provide some relief.

“This is coming at a very bad time for Manitobans and we expect some action from this NDP government in their upcoming budget,” said Grant Jackson, the MLA for Spruce Woods.

Education Minister, Nello Altomare, tells CTV News the provincial government is, “committed to being a reliable partner with stable and predictable funding for our schools,” and said it will maintain the 50 per cent education property tax rebate for Manitobans.

He also said the province has, “asked school divisions to prioritize affordability for families in their budget decisions.”

But homeowners in Morden hope that affordability applies to everyone, whether or not they have students in the system.

“Try and make it lower so I can afford it. I don’t want to have to move again,” said Ward.

The Western School Division tells CTV News it consulted with its staff, students, and community members before the 17 per cent tax hike was approved earlier this month. And while it understands it’s a big jump — the division says taxpayers shouldn’t expect further increases in the future.

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