Côte St. Luc council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night rejecting the unexpected sharp increase in its and other demerged cities’ contribution to the island-wide agglomeration, resulting from Montreal’s 2018 budget.
The average increase to the demerged cities is 5.3 percent. The increased contribution is set to impact homeowners’ overall property taxes, for both local and agglomeration services like public transit, fire and police services.
The demerged cities were caught blindsided, having not been consulted beforehand by Mayor Valerie Plante. The cities had expected a two percent increase in their contribution, more in line with the 2018 rate of inflation.
The resolution calls the higher contribution “unfair and totally unacceptable” and supports Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and his fellow mayors in demerged cities in their “collective efforts to collaborate with the Plante administration to reexamine the 2018 budget and make the necessary adjustments.” The resolution was proposed by Councillor Steven Erdelyi.
“Mayor Plante had campaigned that she was not going to increase taxes more than the cost of living,” Brownstein told the January council meeting. “Now all Montrealers who do not live in the suburban cities are receiving an average tax increase of 3.3 percent.”
Erdelyi specified that last year, Côte St. Luc paid $28.8 million to the agglomeration. As a result of agglomeration reimbursements to CSL and other cities because of unfair percentages, the contribution would have been reduced to $27.2 million this year. And the expected two percent cost of living increase to the agglomeration contribution would have brought that up to $27.7 million, an extra $500,000, which CSL budgeted for.
“But the bill came in at $29 million, $1.3 million more than was budgeted,” the councillor pointed out.
Brownstein explained that “we made accommodations in our [local] budget calculations so that we would have a zero percent tax increase. However, instead of that, the [agglomeration contribution] increase to Côte St. Luc will be 6.7 percent, with leaves us with an increase of $1.8 million, minus the $500,000 we budgeted for, meaning $1.3 million we’re going to have to figure out what to do about.... We want this budget revisited.”
The Mayor also urged residents, including all Montrealers, to express their opposition,” by contacting Plante directly, sending letters, e-mails, sending letters to borough mayors, to their mayors and making it clear that this is unacceptable in a first mandate from a Mayor who promised to provide service, and be a Mayor of the people.”
In light of the new developments, Côte St. Luc will have its budget meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday Jan. 24 at city hall on Cavendish Blvd.