Friday, October 04, 2013

Can we afford these high priced bureaucrats anymore?

Fat-cat bureaucrats at Manitoba’s largest school division are raking in the bucks with pay raises as high as 26% over the past two years, while school trustees demand taxpayers dig even deeper into their pockets for another round of property tax hikes this year. School trustees at the Winnipeg School Division keep telling us they have no choice but to jack up taxes every year in order to preserve important educational programs for kids. This year the division is considering a property tax increase of 6.8%. The proposed hike comes on the heels of a 7.8% property tax increase last year. And while some of that money will go towards teachers’ salaries and other legitimate cost increases, it will also go towards paying the skyrocketing salaries of senior bureaucrats at the division. WSD’s chief superintendent Pauline Clarke is the highest paid bureaucrat at the division. She took home $198,071 in pay in 2011, up a staggering 16.2% over what she got in 2009. Superintendent of inner-city schools Karen Seiler — representing one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the province — got a mind-boggling raise of 26.1% over the past two years, cashing in a paycheque worth $138,938 in 2011. And these bureaucrats try to tell us with a straight face that they have no choice but to jack up our taxes? Give me a break. Just to put the chief superintendent’s salary into perspective, she is paid 39% more than the premier of Manitoba. Premier Greg Selinger was paid $142,071 in 2011. In fact, the division’s assistant secretary-treasurer — yes, “assistant’ — is paid about the same as the premier of Manitoba. Go figure. Assistant secretary-treasurer Tom Bobby made just a little bit more than Selinger in 2011 at $142,502. What’s incredible is that the division still employs five high-paid superintendents — a chief superintendent and four area superintendents — on top of an army of directors, managers and consultants. Do taxpayers really need to pay for five superintendents at the Winnipeg School Division? Meanwhile, where do these pay raises come from, anyway? Seriously, raises of 16% and 19% over two years? I don’t know too many teachers getting annual raises of 8% and 9%. The reality is, the division has done nothing to curb its growing bureaucratic costs. Senior administrators happily give themselves outrageous wage increases and then cry poverty, claiming they’re not getting enough tax dollars from property owners. They’re actually talking about raising property taxes in this division by a stunning 14.6% over two years. Where do they think average taxpayers will get that money from? Sorry, but most of us aren’t getting 16.2% pay raises over two years, Ms. Clarke. Maybe you can afford a 14.6% property tax hike. But it’s a bit out of range for your average working-class stiff trying to pay the bills and keep up with other rising costs. These guys are completely out of control. They have the delegated authority from the Selinger government to jack up taxes every year and they face no repercussions for it. Education Minister Nancy Allan throws her hands in the air and claims there’s nothing she can do about it. She says school divisions have the authority to jack up taxes if they want. Actually, Ms. Allan, that legislative authority comes from you. Meanwhile, the little guy with the $125,000 home gets shafted with another higher tax bill. And what does that taxpayer get in return for paying the school division more money at triple the rate of inflation? Nothing. What an absolute sham.

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