Rigaud residents outraged by property tax rate hike of about 10%

Homeowners in Rigaud say they are outraged over their municipality’s proposed budget and will attend Monday night’s special council meeting in protest before it gets adopted.

Homeowner and flood victim calls the increase ‘far, far, far, far, far too much’

Sandra Peining calls Rigaud's proposed tax rate hike 'outrageous.' (CBC)

Homeowners in Rigaud say they are outraged over their municipality's proposed tax rate hike and will attend Monday night's special council meeting in protest before it gets adopted.

The budget was presented earlier this week and documents show the 2018 budget proposes a base property tax rate increase of about 10 per cent.

For homeowner Sandra Peining, her tax rate will go up even more — by about 12 per cent.

"I find it very difficult to even pay my present taxes. Twelve per cent is far, far, far, far, far too much — especially what we have gone through this year," said Peining, who was one of 300 homeowners in Rigaud whose home was flooded last spring.

Rigaud was one of the hardest hit areas.

"It is not fair to place this burden on our citizens who are already suffering. Rigaud is not a rich town." she said. "The people of Rigaud cannot afford this increase."

Flood mainly to blame for hike

CBC reached out to the office of Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. and was told no one would comment before Monday night's special council meeting, after the budget is adopted.

On the municipality's website, Gruenwald published an "explanation letter," stating that the floods cost the city about $400,000. Beyond that, it's also on the hook for about one-third of recovery-effort costs.

It goes on to say that there are additional expenses this year, such as a new compost collection service, and therefore an increase is necessary.

"After having reduced our expenses to the max within each service department and after having looked at all the possible solutions to finance all necessary projects, we found ourselves in the difficult situation to increase the property tax rate," the letter says.
Nearly 300 homes were flooded in Rigaud, Que., during the spring floods in 2017. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

But homeowner Kevin Menard says something still doesn't add up. He knew the flooding hit hard, and was expecting an increase of about five per cent — but not double that figure.

"Yes we understand there is a flood. We are expecting a small raise. Then I check all the other cities that were affected by the water and no one else has this increase," Menard said.

He pointed to Vaudreuil-Dorion, where property taxes are going up by just under one per cent. In Laval, residents will see their property tax rate rise by an average of 1.2 per cent.

Peining said she will be at Monday night's meeting to speak to council "to say this is outrageous."

With files from CBC's Sudha Krishnan and Simon Nakonechny