Mayor-elect Valérie Plante says the previous Coderre administration left behind a nasty surprise at city hall — an unexpected $358-million budget shortfall.
"We're still dealing with the shock. This is not the type of news we were expecting, especially when my predecessor said the city was in good financial health," Plante told reporters after she toured a startup company in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood Thursday.
Plante noted that in September the Coderre administration projected a $31-million deficit for 2017.
She said her team met the city's director general, Alain Marcoux, yesterday, and he told them that there was a $358-million shortfall.
"It is huge, and it's going to take a bit of time to find out what happened and also how to find the money," Plante said.
'Old trick', new opposition says
Lionel Perez, who was voted interim leader of what's left of Denis Coderre's team Thursday, said Plante is playing with the facts.
Perez called the $358 million "preliminary numbers," based on demands that various city departments are making for next year's budget.
"Our administration would have, in fact, obviously provided a balanced budget," Perez said.
"Being elected means you have to govern. To govern is to make choices. Now they have an opportunity to make choices without blaming the old administration," Perez told reporters at the party's headquarters in Villeray.
"That's an easy trick that everybody does," he continued.
That would include Coderre, who lamented an unexpected $100-million budget shortfall after he was first elected in 2013.
Plante vows shortfall won't affect taxes
Plante said that the shortfall would not affect her promise on keeping property taxes down.
"We're not going to raise taxes above the inflation rate. This is very important to us, and I want all Montrealers to know," she said.
As for whether that shortfall would affect the rest of her campaign promises, Plante said, "I'm surrounded by a very competent team, and so we will find ways to come up with a good budget."
She noted some of her big promises rely mostly on funding from other levels of government and that many of her promises focus on changing the culture at city hall to make it more transparent, which won't cost very much.
"I feel like we're going to be able to move forward with many of our promises," Plante said.
"But at this point there's an emergency, and it's to find that money."