Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
The mayor denies that he deceived the voters and says instead that his administration submits a budget responsible.
Valérie Plante has suffered a salvo of criticism after having filed a budget which provides for 2018 the fee increases in excess of inflation, in spite of his promise made during the election campaign. The mayor is forbidden to have failed in his word, arguing that his administration was acting responsibly by investing heavily in water infrastructure. The fact remains that Montrealers will receive a notice of assessment in an average increase of 3.3 %.
During the election campaign, the Valerie Plant had promised to keep tax increases below the rate of inflation, or 2.1 per cent, according to the forecasts made by the Conference Board of Canada to 2018.
When she presented the budget of his administration on Wednesday in the company of Benoit Dorais, chairman of the executive committee, the mayor denied that he had broken one of its main promises. According to it, Montrealers have learned that during the election campaign, she spoke only of the property tax, and no taxes of borough and water tax. “We have always been clear, during the election campaign, [on the fact] that we were not going to increase property taxes beyond the rate of inflation for general corporate purposes. This commitment has been respected, ” said Valerie Plant.
The average increase in property taxes has thus been determined to 1.9 %, but are in addition to the higher taxes of the district (0.3 %) and that of the water tax (1.1 per cent), for a total of 3.3 %.
The extract of the electoral platform of projet Montréal on the subject of tax increases reads however as follows : “projet Montréal is committed to implement its program without raising taxes beyond the rate of inflation. “
The entourage of the mayor has reported that in the first budget of the administration of Denis Coderre, the fees had increased by 2.8 % in spite of the promise of the ex-mayor to limit the tax burden of Montrealers to inflation (1.7 per cent).
The administration believed that it needed to increase the water tax (after four years of freezing) to take account of the accelerated pace of investments in water infrastructure. 150 million per year, these expenses are passed 340 million in 2017 and increase to 500 million in 2018. “We want to be responsible and we decided to invest heavily in the infrastructure of the water and not to wait until there’s leaks, that it does cost more and still pass the bill on to future generations “, explained the mayor.
The size of the budget will take a leap of 5.2% compared to 2017, reaching 5.47 billion in 2018. This increase is attributable mainly to the increase of $ 25.2 million to the budgets of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) and the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM), to the increase of the budgets of the boroughs (24.7 million) and the higher cost of pension plans.
The budget is up 5.2 % compared with that of 2017.
The contribution of the City to the transit, paid to the regional Authority of metropolitan transport (ARTM), will also increase from 27.7 million to achieve 574,3 million.
According to the mayor Plant, it is a “transitional budget” to the new administration, which intends to put the focus on mobility, economic development and housing during his term of office that begins.
The office of the pink line of the subway promised by the mayor has not yet been established, but it will be in the next few months, and the City has the financial margin to achieve it, has been provided.
Other promises, such as the compensation for the traders, the brigade building, and the abolition of the transfer tax (called the ” welcome tax “) for the families not included in the budget. The mayor has, however, indicated that the City had set aside $ 21 million for the transfer rights in the funds of the home.
Confidence shaken ?
The opposition at City hall accuses the administration Plant to have lacked rigor in not containing enough spending and accuses him of having betrayed one of its main election promises with tax increases. The mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, believes that many Montrealers would not have voted for Valerie Plant, had they known that it would not due to its electoral commitment.
In 2005, mayor Gérald Tremblay, had to withdraw its budget that included tax increases after they have admitted to not having complied with its election promise to freeze the tax burden of Montréal. The leader of the opposition, Lionel Perez, does not exclude the possibility of asking the administration Plant to do the same.
Mr. Perez also lamented that the budget does not include any compensatory measure for the merchants affected by the construction sites and that the administration has not applied a tax rate reduced for merchants : “It shows that they [the members of the administration] are disconnected from commercial reality, economic as well as the residents of the City of Montreal. “
It is believed that this budget could negatively affect the credit rating of Montreal.
In the afternoon, in the municipal council, the administration had to respond to the allegations of the opposition. Benoit Dorais has responded to the criticism by saying : “I don’t see how the 118 $ increase [average] will hurt the city. For the 118 $ they will pay more […], Montrealers will have more services. Of the specific services. “
This is what will pay over the owner of a home whose value is 427-524 $.
For its part, the Chamber of commerce of metropolitan Montreal is concerned by the tax increases. “This decision goes against the promise made by the mayor during the election campaign, which sends a signal disturbing,” said its president, Michel Leblanc. “The taxpayers of montreal are already the most taxed people in North America. It is obvious that this rise overnight in the business environment and reduces the attractiveness of the metropolis for the business. “
The Association of Quebec landlords digests badly increase of 3.3 %, which will be a difficult challenge for landlords of apartment buildings and difficult to pass it on to the tenants, she said.
The budget, which will be the subject of a public review at the commission in the next few days, will be adopted by the end of the month of January.
The suburbs in fury
The fifteen cities related to the island of Montreal will be entitled to invoice salt of the Ville de Montréal and the mayors are furious. They learned Wednesday that the share they have to pay to Montreal the next year will grow by an average of 5.3 %. “We are all dismayed that while the way in which the administration Plant process. Without warning, it tabled a budget that will have dramatic consequences for us, ” said Philippe Roy, mayor of Mont-Royal. The share that his city will have to pay will increase by 4.4 million, an increase of 9.8 %.
The mayor of Montreal West, Beny Masella, who chairs the Association of mayors of suburbs, asserts that the municipalities had not received any indication of what lay ahead : “We thought that with the new administration, things would change, but this is not the case. “
All the cities that have already done their budget will have to adjust their forecasts. And as the weight of the suburbs to the urban agglomeration council is insufficient, the mayors will have no other choice than to assume the consequences of the budget decisions of the administrative Plant. “The problem is the governance of the conurbation. It is as if the citizens of our cities did not have the right to vote, ” said Philippe Roy. The Association plans to challenge the government about the system of governance of the urban agglomeration.