Carbon levy likely to have impact on schools, associate superintendant

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Critics of the NDP carbon levy have vocally denounced it as a costly mistake that raises costs on everything, including government services such as education.

The Wildrose came out last month with an internal Alberta Education document, highlighting the levy will cost Alberta school boards between $8 million and $12 million in the 2017 calendar year, jumping to between $11 million and $18 million in the 2018 school year.

With respect to the overall impact on the public (Rocky View Schools) and separate school (Calgary Catholic School District) budgets that relate to Cochrane schools – the impact will be several hundred thousand apiece, equating to fractions of a per cent.

It may sound negligible but according to Darrell Couture, associate superintendant of business and operations for RVS, the impacts are likely to be felt.

He confirmed that they have budgeted a deficit in both plant operations and maintenance and transportation due to the carbon levy but that these deficits are not sustainable.

Unless provincial grants are created to offset increased costs, it may impact future service or result in increased transportation fees for parents.

“The carbon tax will have a significant impact on these department budgets as it represents about a 2.5 percent effect on our transportation budget and about one per cent effect on the plant operations and maintenance portion of our budget, ” said Couture.

“The effect of carbon tax on our overall budget of $250 million is about one-quarter of a percent, ” said Darrell Couture RVS superintendant; RVS district includes 40 schools in Airdrie, Chestermere, Crossfield and Cochrane.

“There will also be indirect cost to RVS as suppliers pass on some or all of their increased cost they incur as a result of the implementation of carbon tax but we cannot estimate this impact on our budget, ” said Couture.

According to Couture, the carbon levy impact on natural gas from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2017 is estimated at $91,000 and the full cost from Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019 (when the levy is fully implemented at $30/ton) is $205,000.

The diesel fuel impact (student bus transportation) is slated at $140,000 from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2017 and $352,000 from Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019.

The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD), with a 2016-17 budget of $591 million – encompasses 105 schools in Airdrie, Chestermere, Calgary and Cochrane (Holy Spirit School and St. Timothy High School).

“The carbon tax has increased transportation and utility costs by $300,000 for this current fiscal year and $550,000 for the 2017-18 fiscal (school) year, ” said Karen Ryhorchuk, senior communications adviser with CCSD, adding that the carbon levy increases would be absorbed into their operations budget.

The RVS division arranges all transportation for Cochrane students busing to both public and Catholic schools; all fees are paid to the public school board.

Details for the 2017-18 school year budgets remain unknown until the province releases their 2017 budget sometime in March.

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Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing. She has a knack for getting the scoop on stories and is a strong interviewer. The U of C and MRU English/Journalism graduate is committed to telling every story through a new lens, from a fresh perspective. Currently, her focus is on news and politics reporting, including town hall. She has a passion for providing a platform for underdogs, grassroots movements and those who have the courage to put themselves out there. She bases the strength of her stories on the depth of her connection with her interviewee, which is best done over too much coffee.