Montreal budget 2016: More tax hikes, spending on transit

The City of Montreal's 2016 budget includes another increase in residential property taxes and a spending boost for public transit.

Plateau-Mont-Royal hit again by highest increases, borough mayor blames Coderre for city spending

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre presented the city's 2016 budget at City Hall this morning. (CBC)

The City of Montreal's 2016 budget includes another increase in residential property taxes, a smaller increase in non-residential property taxes and an increase in overall expenditures of 2.4 per cent. 

Overall, residential property tax rates are going up 1.9 per cent — though the rates vary widely by borough.

For the average single family home, valued at $431,044, that means an increase of $75 in property taxes next year.

Non-residential property tax rates, however, are only going up an average of 0.9 per cent. 

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the move is aimed at encouraging economic growth and reviving some of the city's struggling areas.

"I'm not looking at the past, I'm looking at the future," Coderre told a news conference Wednesday morning.

"We're creating an environment so we can create more wealth."

Six boroughs — Lachine, LaSalle, L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles and Saint-Laurent -— will actually see a decrease in non-residential property taxes. 

The city's overall budget is projected to be $5.1 billion, up from $4.88 billion a year earlier, though the city says only 0.5 per cent of the increase will go towards operating costs — the rest will go towards infrastructure investments.

Key areas of spending include:

  • $429.8 million for STM raised by $20.7 million, up 5.1 per cent from 2015
  • $138.1 million for city road repairs (including $5.9 million for potholes), up $1.7 million more than last year.
  • $6.7 million for reviving the city's wooded areas hit hard by emerald ash borer.
  • $159.4 million for snow removal, up $3.7 million.
  • $14 million for Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations.
  • $73.2 million for the Biodôme, Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.

City trims labour costs

The city says it expects to save money through what it calls a "five-year staff reduction plan," starting with the elimination of the equivalent of 214 full-time positions next year. Staff will also be cut at the borough level.

It projects savings of $104 million as part of reforms to the pension plans of municipal workers.

In the 2015 budget put forward last November, Montreal residential property owners saw, on average, a 2.2 per cent increase in their property taxes.

The Plateau—Mont-Royal borough was the hardest hit, with residential rates up 4.5 per cent. The 2015 budget was $4.88 billion, down 0.3 per cent from a year earlier.

'A smoke and mirrors show': Projet Montréal

Projet Montréal called the city's budget a "smoke and mirrors show." 

"[Coderre] is not misleading the population, but he is insisting on spin," Plateau–Mont-Royal Mayor Luc Ferrandez said Wednesday afternoon. 

Ferrandez questioned the 2.4 per cent increase in overall spending, saying it's double the allotted increase in last year's budget. 

As to the jump in residential and non-residential property taxes for Plateau–Mont-Royal, Ferrandez said "95 per cent" of the tax raise is coming from the city, not the borough.

"Coderre doesn't want to talk about the fact his expenses are rising," he said. 

He said the borough administration has done everything it can to reduce costs on its end, but further cuts would affect front-line services.

Ferrandez said Plateau-Mont-Royal's expenses are increasing at a rate that's less than Ville-Marie's, but property values in the borough are exploding. 

"We've asked them again and again to take that into account," he said.


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