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Tax increase the fault of the Agglo

Property owners in Côte Saint-Luc received their tax bills this week after our elected council adopted the 2010 budget. This process was delayed as the  Agglomeration Council, headed by Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, once again stuck it to the suburban municipalities which demerged from the mega-city four years ago. Some gratitude! Tremblay would not have his job if it were not for the suburbs.

Côte Saint-Luc council and administrative staff did extensive work to trim costs wherever possible and achieved a 0.7 percent decrease in the average residential property tax bill for the local portion of the bill controlled by the municipality. Unfortunately, despite the decrease in taxation for local spending, there was an overall increase of 4.9 percent in the average residential property tax bill because of the dramatic increase of 11.2 percent in the bill Côte Saint-Luc will be charged for island-wide services by the Montreal agglomeration council.

"We are proud that due to our careful planning and prudent fiscal management, residents will see a tax decrease on the local portion of the Côte Saint-Luc budget," Mayor Anthony Housefather said. "Unfortunately the average residential property tax bill will rise 4.9 percent this year due to the dramatic increase in the cost of island-wide services. We opposed the Montreal budget that imposed these increases and continue to believe that in this recessionary environment, any increase in taxes beyond the cost of inflation is unacceptable and grossly unfair. We have done our utmost to mitigate the effect on our residents by our local cuts and are pleased that our average tax increase on a residential property is less than the average tax increase for an average property within the City of Montreal and most other neighbouring municipalities."

Côte Saint-Luc is responsible for delivering local services, such as snow clearing, library and recreation services, road and sidewalk resurfacing, aqueduct repairs and much more. It is also responsible for delivering emergency medical services on its territory The island-wide Agglomeration of Montreal (Agglo)  is funded by 16 municipalities—including Côte Saint-Luc—and is responsible for delivering island-wide and regional services such as public transit, fire services, police services, water treatment. Côte Saint-Luc collects property taxes on its territory and pays the Agglomeration of Montreal for island-wide services.

The 2010 Côte Saint-Luc budget totals $56.9 million representing $31.2 million for local services and $25.7 million to pay the Agglomeration of Montreal for island-wide services. While the cost of local Côte Saint-Luc services has increased by just 0.52 percent compared to 2009, the bill for island-wide Agglomeration services has increased by 11.2 percent. Yes, this is not fair! Our mayor and his colleagues are not taking this sitting down. They will take this to the provincial government. If you are unhappy as a taxpayer then tell your local MNA from D'Arcy McGee, Lawrence Bergman.

"The first installment for taxes is due is March 1 and the second on May 31.

Again this year, the Côte Saint-Luc city council and management team used a strict budget process used in the private sector. Instead of using historical budgets as a base and adding to it, a form of zero-based budgeting was used where every department function was reviewed comprehensively and all expenditures had to be justified. This budgeting process allows city council and the management team to allocate resources more efficiently as it is based on real needs and priorities, allows for better understanding of overall budgets, encourages managers to find cost effective ways to improve operations, and complements the city’s objectives of financial accountability.

Just as the operating budget allows short-term planning and control of current operating needs, the capital expenditures budget is a tool to aid long-term planning and control of long-range and capital needs, such as road and sidewalk replacement, sewer replacement and repairs, repairs to municipal buildings, upgrades and improvements to parks, pools and equipment, replacement and upgrade of municipal vehicles.

The city council also approved the three-year capital expenditures budget on December 16, 2009. The budget is $23.5 million in 2010, $6.9 million in 2011 and $6.7 million in 2012. The City of Côte Saint-Luc will continue to maximize the use of grants for capital expenditures such as the PRECO, the new Gas Tax and FCCQ grants available by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The Intergenerational/Aquatic Centre has been identified as a possible project for 2010 costing approximately $18 million. Côte Saint-Luc has submitted an application for funding of $11.5 million to Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MAMROT) to cover two-thirds of the cost of the project. The municipality is waiting for a positive reply from MAMROT before making a decision to proceed.


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