LBPSB school tax bill to increase 2.29 per cent

LBPSB school tax bill to increase 2.29 per cent

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.

“We need to pay for commercial services, the cost of which continues to increase,” said LBPSB District 4 commissioner Frank di Bello, “and the financial resources of school boards is limited.”

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  1. I’m quite shocked that this reporter sat through our whole meeting and got so few of the facts right.

    – LBSPB does not send school tax bills.
    – LBPSB did NOT vote on a tax rate. Our resolution simply asked that the CGSTIM adopt a budget that makes sure that we get the monies due to us.
    – The new rate, by the way, is set based on the amount of taxes that MELS authorises the CGSTIM to collect and the rate has, in fact decreased.
    – The only thing that increases is the evaluation of the properties and no school board has no control over that.
    – Paola Hawa ran as a CAQ candidate whose platform included the elimination of school boards – a subject she CLEARLY has no knowledge of. School boards are not allowed to spend tax dollars on textbooks. It is spent on maintenance of buildings and equipment, energy costs, management costs for schools and centres and part of the student transportation costs only.
    – Last month before we were criticized for NOT supporting a fundraiser. This month we are criticized FOR supporting a fundraiser. In fact, school boards MUST raise funds privately to support innovative & creative programs that engage students. These programs have contributed to the fact that we have the highest success rates for student graduation in the province.
    – There are no textbooks in some schools because those teachers have CHOSEN not to restrict their lessons to a textbook.
    – Paola Hawa shouldn’t speak about things she knows nothing about. While the board is showing an accumulated surplus of $41.6 million (over 15 years), $11.8 miilion alone represents the value of our land, $13.2 million are for grants receivable for employee benefits, and another $10 million plus represents the value of all the equipment, trucks, computers, etc. Realistically, we have accumulated about $5 – $6 million of operating surplus over the past 15 years (kudos to our administrators for budgeting and managing extremely effectively) that is available to use and that is running out quickly as we get cut each year. In addition, 90% of our surplus is RESTRICTED by the Minister of Education, Leisure and Sports (MELS). Each year, we are allowed to use 10% of it and some years they allow us more. This year, they have announced that we can use UP TO 32% more, but this is misleading as there are tight restrictions on what we can use based on the cuts they are making to us (over $2 million). We don’t have a final clarification on how much of it we can really use, but it will not likely be much more than 20% of it and quite possibly less.

    Suanne Stein Day
    Chairman, Lester B. Pearson School Board

  2. June 2, 2013

    Chairperson of LBPSB, Suanne Stein Day's comments can be divided into 5 parts. Since the article deals primarily with the school board meeting and I was "the public," at that meeting, I will respond.

    1. SSD refers to Robert Frank as " this reporter" who got so few facts right…. That is not so… In fact, I found the article informative and well researched. It was good that he interviewed C.H. who made the comments about Hydro-Quebec… I must admit I learned something.

    As far criticizing the reporter , he is in good company. I was criticized for saying "lies" , The Gazette was " wrong" regarding information on taxes ( it wasn't) and about 4 weeks ago SSD questioned the editor of the Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges , Jim Duff , for publishing a letter to the Editor of mine… Imagine.

    2. On the taxes SSD said this Gazette article was wrong. No, it wasn't.

    According to The Gazette, this Comite de gestion de la taxe scolaire said taxes are going up 2.2 per cent…. Chairperson Day is on that committee, and will be till next June 2014… This is the highest paid committee for a commissioner to be on….SSD gets paid a lot of money for being on that committee…. This is the committee that 4 years ago blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on a poor investment…money for cookies and milk for poor kids…..then they had the temerity to ask the gov't for money…… Last week, I heard this committee now owes about $ 900, 000.00….

    Anyway, at the meeting, she said " The Gazette is wrong."

    So what were the tax resolutions about at the LBPSB meeting… The first to get herself re-appointed to the " Comité " and the second to ask the Comité for money for the school board… What silliness…

    Bottom line: SSD asks herself – the Comité – for money…. This is the rubbish that taxpayers pay for.

    3. SSD writes about Paola Hawa who " CLEARLY" has no knowledge about school boards. … I DO and so does P.Hawa… Listen to this 11 minute debate between SSD and PH on CBC Daybreak just before the election.

    It was titled: The Future of School Boards.. There is one comment under the link.

    4. On the matter of Fundraising, SSD either forgets and feels it is important to twist things around. She writes " we were criticised for NOT supporting a fundraiser…..The LBPSB only supported the Fundraiser of Batshaw because they were shamed into it….That was after, my 2 letters to the Editor…

    Next she writes "we were criticised FOR supporting a fundraiser "…..I cannot make this any simpler : I do NOT want to pay for 4 commissioners to EAT LOBSTER ….We have a lot of poverty in the West Island….Is there no shame ? Is this what some in the English community are fighting for ?…

    5. Regarding textbooks….It seems like yesterday that four Liberal MNAs wrote a letter to the Gazette Editor saying they did not know there were no Eng. textbooks for kids to follow the reform….They were misled by the Quebec English School Boards Association , who said everything was fine on the English front….Eng parents threatened to withhold taxes ; SSD was a commissioner at the time and said nothing


    Lastly, I have been asking questions at the public question period at the LBPSB for many years….I have had the microphone switched off, the camera not showing me and not being allowed to exercise my democratic right as a taxpayer….to ask questions …

    Personal attacks are answers to questions by chairperson SSD….. I have said this at Council ; I have written this in email to all commissioners…

    Globetrotter Suanne Stein Day is not suitable to be chairperson of the LBPSB.

  3. For the record, here are the comments left by Suanne Day on June 4, 2013, at 8:45:29 a.m.

    Suanne Day has left a new comment on your post "LBPSB school tax bill to increase 2.29 per cent":

    The Master of taking things out of context. I said "if the Gazette reported that we or the tax council set the rate, they are wrong". Of course, the Gazette did not say that, and in fact their article was correct in stating that the tax rate went DOWN and that taxes will, on average, rise because of the valuations of properties, set by municipalities.

    As for the other nonsense Eustace rails about, history, there is no problem for any teacher in LBPSB to get textbooks. We are not just after a curriculum reform waiting for books to be translated any longer.

    And I assure you, Eustace doesn't shame LBPSB into doing anything. Ever. Despite the credit he likes to take. Our donation was in memory of a commissioner and parent commissioner who passed away in office and used to work for Batshaw, Mr. Conny Held. These are not things we rush to run by Eustace.

    I'm so glad he learned something from this article. It's not that the same information was repeated to him on at least two separate occasions. If he's so passionate about asking his questions, he should learn to listen to the answers.

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