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Mayor Kelly Says HRM Paying Too Much in Education Costs
(Thursday, April 29/2004)-- The residents of Halifax Regional Municipality can no longer afford to allow the province to subsidize education costs for other Nova Scotia school boards with their tax dollars, Mayor Peter Kelly said today.
Mayor Kelly said HRM has more than one-third of the total school population in Nova Scotia, yet it pays close to 50 per cent of the total Mandatory Education Funding collected by the province.
Also, based on the present formula, the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) last year received about $1,000 less per student for education than did other regional school boards in the province.
"We don't mind paying our fair share for education costs, but we've reached the point now where the taxpayers of HRM can no longer afford to be giving money to the province to use for education purposes in other jurisdictions in Nova Scotia," Mayor Kelly said. "Let's not forget than under the Canadian Constitution, education is the responsibility of the province."
HRM was required to pay $67.6 million last year in Mandatory Education Funding to the Province of Nova Scotia.. In addition, HRM paid the HRSB an additional $20.8 million in Supplementary Education Funding.
Mayor Kelly said there is increasing concern among a number of municipalities that the Hamm government is using Mandatory Education Funding for expenditures that were never intended to be included, such as costs for teacher benefits (medical, dental) and teacher pension costs.
He said that HRM was required to pay an additional $1 million in educations costs last year because the province advised municipalities that teacher benefit costs would be included in education funding. In its Budget presentation last week, the province announced that it would also be requiring municipalities this year to cost-share on expenditures related to the teachers pension plan, currently underfunded by $1 billion.
Mayor Kelly said "Those are prime examples of the province negotiating a contract with the teachers, and then coming back to the municipalities and telling them that they have to cost-share the new expenses. We had no say, we were not consulted. We were simply told we have to pay more. Period."
He added "To our knowledge, there's no new money going into the classrooms to improve the standard of education. The province is simply taking more money from us to help pay off a commitment it made to others."
Mayor Kelly said the time has come for the province to assume full responsibility for the costs of education in Nova Scotia.
Mayor Peter Kelly
Director, Financial Services