By Robert Frank
English-speaking homeowners will receive school tax bills, on average, totalling 2.29 per cent more than last year.
Lester B. Pearson School Board approved a motion by District 4 commissioner Frank di Bello to revise the tax rate, during its monthly meeting, May 27.
LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day pointed out that the board has in fact lowered its tax rate.
“We’re not increasing taxes,” she stated in a heated exchange with school board watchdog Chris Eustace, who questioned why residents’ tax bills must rise.
“The increase is due to the rising evaluation on people’s homes,” Stein Day explained. “We have absolutely no control over that. We cannot stop the tax rise because it is based upon the value of their property.”
“If people have an issue with their evaluation, then they need to take it up with their municipalities,” she added.
Sainte Anne de Bellevue municipal councilor Paola Hawa objected to the hike.
“I believe that LBPSB is running a surplus of about $41 million,” said Hawa, who ran unsuccessfully for the Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec in September. “Don’t increase taxes. Reduce your administrative costs. It’s a very simple proposition.”
She deplored commissioners’ travel and entertainment costs, citing LBPSB’s vote at Monday night’s meeting to pick up the tab for an upcoming lobster dinner at another school board that Stein Day and commissioners Sergio Borja, Don Rae and Martin Sherman will attend.
“The kids next door to me don’t even have textbooks,” she complained. “I encourage citizens to take an interest in school board meetings. They need to take a look at some of the expense reports and see whether they are justified in light of the fact that some students don’t have the basics.”
In an interview following the LBPSB meeting, assistant director-general Carol Heffernan expressed concern whether the increased revenue will suffice.
“Hydro Quebec has announced that it will increase its electricity rates by 2.4 percent, so we’re already looking at a shortfall in our energy budget for the coming year,” she told The Suburban.
Since LBPSB spans a large geographical area, the increased school tax bills for individual residences will vary widely, according to local property evaluations.
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