While the human toll has been immeasurable in Laval, where some 500 people have died as a result of COVID-19, The city is pegging the financial cost of the COVID-19 pandemic at $60.4 million.
According to a first fiscal year based on parameters known to date, Laval estimates its deficit based on operating expenses, lower revenues from the slowdown in the financial market that has a potential impact on transfer fees until the end of the year, and a $22.4 million STL deficit.
The administration is lauding its 2019 surplus of $58.9 million, which can be used “in whole or in part, to meet its obligations for the current year and to put in place stimulus measures. This type of solution would benefit the entire population of Laval since the city’s financial situation would remain under control and allow planned development to continue.”
Laval Mayor Marc Demers also announced his intention last week to freeze property taxes in the 2021 budget. “The current situation is full of uncertainty and is constantly evolving” he said. “While we cannot commit to a tax freeze now, that is our intention. We have been cautious and responsible managers in recent years that allows us to consider a tax freeze to give a respite to Laval citizens who have been hit hard in this difficult time.”
Laval’s Official Opposition Parti Laval has long called for a tax freeze in the face of recouped funds from past fraudulent activities and in accumulated budgetary surpluses and unattributed cash reserves, for which it was rapped by its own auditor-general.
The city’s $921.4 million budget included a 1.4 percent property tax increase, the sixth hike in as many years.
In March the Demers administration’s council majority handily rejected an opposition councilor’s prescient motion to increase discretionary funds for distribution by councilors to local community organizations sure to feel the pinch in favour of large-scale funding of $400,000 to Centraide, and then last week announced financial support to local organizations that are feeling the brunt of the pandemic as predicted, prompting criticism from Vimont independent councillor Michel Poissant.
“Last month they laughed at my proposal to help local groups, and then they make a big deal about giving $40,000 to one of those groups a few weeks later,” he said, adding the administration is using the current crisis “to continue its irresponsible management.”
Also this month, the city settled out of court in the Commodore affair, with a payout upwards of $13.7 million in cash and land transfers to end a $66.3 million lawsuit.