West Island municipalities await agglo budget

Budgets delayed

By Kevin Woodhouse

Montreal’s agglomeration budget has not been released and is not expected to see the light of day for another couple of weeks at least, forcing West Island municipalities to hold off on making their local budgets’.

And while Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has stated that agglo taxes should not rise more than cost of living adjustments, somewhere between 1.5-2.2 per cent, there are no guarantees if the city faces a shortfall, especially in the realm of pensions for employees.

“There is still more information needed for the city of Montreal to complete its budget but at the local level, we have done all we can to reduce spending while maintaining services,” said Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis who is also a member of the city of Montreal’s executive Committee.

Beis told that so far, local taxes for Pierrefonds-Roxboro residents should not increase more than four dollars for the average single dwelling home. “This small increase also takes into account the new projects for the borough including the new municipal pool construction,” Beis said. “We want to be responsible with taxpayers’ money because with increases in food, gas and other basic needs, taxpayers cannot be expected to just keep paying and paying.”

Dollard des Ormeaux Mayor Ed Janiszewski believes that the city of Montreal must be practical in its upcoming budget and while freezing taxes might sound like good news, it is really just putting off having to cover the eventual shortfall. “The new mayor probably wants to look good but deferring costs will come back to haunt you. Former Mayor Gerald Tremblay froze taxes and since then, the city has been facing large deficits,” Janiszewski said.

Another sore point for West Island mayors is having to cover the city of Montreal’s bills for projects like Griffintown, the Botanical Gardens and other agglo expenses downloaded onto the demerged municipalities.

“We’ve gotten nowhere with Montreal on this over the years as union and pension costs continue to increase,” said Janiszewski. “We pay for the Centre-ville because we are told our residents work there meanwhile Laval residents don’t have to foot the bill which our grandchildren will be paying for.”

The local portion for Dorval’s local budget is about $118 million and 60 percent of the tax revenue is sent to the agglomeration. “If the agglo raises its bill by $2 million, this increase will be off loaded to the taxpayer and we will not get a penny of services from the agglo,” said Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau.

While Pointe Claire’s administration passed its local budget recently, “but if the agglo share is higher than 2.2 per cent, we will need to pass a supplementary budget,” Mayor Morris Trudeau told The Suburban.

Ste. Anne de Bellevue residents can expect a higher agglo contribution this year due to the new John Abbott College science building added to the region, at a cost of $ 35 million. “We have spent at least 15 days working on the local budget and we have promised to reduce spending,” Mayor Paola Hawa said. “With our expected increase coming, it is time to review the agglomeration setup with the city of Montreal.”

Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle told The Suburban that he “would be extremely surprised and disappointed if agglo taxes go higher than the expected cost of living adjustment at about 1.5 per cent.

“In Beaconsfield, the previous administrations and councils made every effort to reduce local taxes and we don’t expect local taxes to go up this year,” Bourelle said.

Bourelle acknowledged that with the demerged municipalities only making up less than 15 percent of the total votes on the agglo,” we have very little control over what decisions are made. The reality is that no matter how much we disagree with the agglomeration, we can only lobby or put public pressure on the city of Montreal.”
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