A growing population, a high poverty rate and an unquenchable thirst for services is making the so-called "Coderre tax" a tough pill to swallow for the Southwest borough, says city councillor Craig Sauvé.
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Over the summer, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's administration announced a new funding formula for the city's 19 boroughs that would see some gain and others lose their current share of city financing beginning in 2015.
Among the boroughs hardest hit are Outremont, Plateau-Mont-Royal and Southwest boroughs. Those boroughs will lose 19.3, 12.7 and 10.8 per cent over 10 years, respectively.
Councillor Sauvé told CBC Daybreak on Monday morning that the cash-strapped Southwest borough is under an enormous amount of pressure to maintain services as the population increases and residential development and city infrastructure booms.
Huge demand for services
Sauvé said the Southwest borough — which comprises St-Henri, Pointe-Saint-Charles, Little Burgundy, Griffintown, Ville Émard and Côte St-Paul — has the highest amount of social and community housing in all of Montreal.
He said the great number of people living below the poverty line in the Southwest borough are dependent on services that work to keep children in school and give residents access to sports facilities, swimming pools and libraries.
And so to compensate for the coming budget cuts, the Southwest borough raised taxes.
"The Coderre reform is so heavy and difficult for the Southwest to manage, that we did make some cuts, but we had to raise taxes a little bit," Sauvé said.
Outremont cuts services
Outremont voted not to raise taxes, instead choosing to cut some services.
Borough councillor Lucie Cardyn defended that choice.
"I must say that for a moment I was tempted, because it was the easiest solution, yes, you just pass it down to the citizens of which I’m one — I’m paying those taxes as well," Cardyn told Daybreak.
Sauvé said he would like to see road tolls and new parking fees to help the Southwest pay for services like public transit, pointing to the presence of the Turcot Interchange, Bonaventure Expressway and Champlain Bridge on part of its territory.
He said Montreal's financial rejigging is an extension of the province's new austerity budget measures, and that means municipal officials have to get creative.
"It’s always cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. And they’ve been cutting their revenue sources for a long time now too, so we have to re-look at how we can make Montreal more efficient for sure," he said.