POLITICS

Saskatchewan school division disputes big bill for water upgrade project

10/16/2014 11:03 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
PILOT BUTTE, Sask. - A Saskatchewan school division wants the province's municipal board to clarify whether it should pay a six-figure bill for its share of a town's new water system.

Pilot Butte (BYOOT) put in the system using a local improvement program to offset costs.

This past February, the Prairie Valley School Division got a $196,000 assessment for the Pilot Butte Elementary School, which had been using a well system before the installation.

The division says it would be a challenge to pay up because the provincial government controls school mill rates.

Trustees are now looking to the Saskatchewan Municipal Board for guidance after a Queen's Bench judge ruled last month that the court doesn't have jurisdiction in the matter.

A date for the board hearing has not been set.

Janey Kotylak, the division's board chairwoman, has told Regina radio station CJME that trustees want to use their operating dollars for the students' education rather than infrastructure needs.

"We only get our funding from the province now so we don't have the ability to collect taxes to cover this and it's definitely been a tight budget over the last few years," said Kotylak.

The school division's lawyer argued in court last month that Prairie Valley shouldn't be responsible for the assessment because the land the school is on is being held in trust for the Crown, and that the property is also designated as a park.

In other jurisdictions, such as Regina, school boards have paid local improvement program levies.

The Town of Pilot Butte has declined to comment. (CJME)