As one of the largest employers in Langley, the school district is seeking clarity on what the new health tax means for education. At Tuesday’s meeting, the school board approved a $242 million budget for 2017/2018. File photo

Langley School District seeks clarity on new health care payroll tax

As one of the largest employers in Langley, district ‘concerned’ as school board approves budget

At their first meeting aired live online, Langley board of education adopted a $242 million budget for the 2017/18 school year on Tuesday evening.

Secretary-treasurer Brian Iseli went through the annual budget before trustees voted to adopt it.

Iseli said there are currently a lot of unknowns about how much the provincial government’s new health care payrolltax will impact education in Langley.

“One thing we do know is we will be paying a higher cost than we did when we paid MSP premiums,” he told trustees on Tuesday.

The School District is one of the largest employers in Langley with more than 2,500 employees. The new health tax has been brought in to replace MSP premiums, which are being eliminated in B.C.

“We do know that for about six months we will be paying both the MSP premiums and the new tax, so that will be a higher cost to us. But right now all the associations are trying to get clarity as to what this health tax will mean for education,” said Iseli in a later interview.

“Now that we’ve completed last year’s budget we are already working on next year so it’s something we need to address.”

The five per cent of businesses with payrolls of more than $1.5 million will pay the full 1.95 per cent health tax. Businesses with payrolls between $500,000 and $1.5 million will pay a portion of the full tax. Those that fall below $500,000 will not pay anything.

READ MORE: Langley greenhouse faces $100K hit

Some of the highlights from the budget include $1.16 million for purchasing 27 portables to address the exploding population of students coming into Langley, mainly in Willoughby.

“Last year we bought 20 portables. Eleven were paid for by the district and the others were purchased by the province,” Iseli told trustees.

“We ordered another three portables, which are being installed this week. We have ordered another four portables, which won’t arrive until the end of the school year but we wanted to get ahead of it knowing we will need them for next year.”

Where those portables will be located hasn’t yet been determined, he said.

The efforts to save the small gym at Langley Secondary cost the district $913 million in seismic upgrades. A joint project between the district, the Township and private donors paved the way for a new track at Walnut Grove Secondary at a cost of $520,000 for the district.

In total, $950,000 was spent on new furniture for schools.

Langley School District enjoyed another financially successful year with international students bringing in roughly $15 million to the district.

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