iStock Montreal residential owners will have to endure average tax increases of 4.9%, while those in the non-residential sector will see average increases of 4.6%.
Marked by rising inflation, a slowdown in real estate activity and increased spending on public transportation and the hiring of new police officers, the City of Montreal's budget continues to swell and will approach $7 billion. next year. Residential owners will face average tax increases of 4.9%, while those in the non-residential sector will experience average increases of 4.6%, a record since 2010.
Two days after the resignation of the president of the city's board of directors, Dominique Ollivier, who found herself at the heart of a controversy over the management of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM), the mayor Valérie Plante presented her budget for 2024 on Wednesday, accompanied in particular by the new head of finance, Benoit Dorais.
“The budget that we are presenting to you today is responsible,” argued the mayor. According to her, the 3.5% increase in the budget, which will reach 6.99 billion, demonstrates the administration's efforts to control the City's spending, in a context where inflation and construction costs have soared. arrow. Thus, the average tax increases are lower than the inflation rate of 5.2% established last August by the Conference Board, she pointed out.
However, significant variations are observed from one district to another. Combined with borough taxes, the highest increases will be borne by owners in the boroughs of Pierrefonds-Roxboro (7.2%) and Anjou (6.3%). On the other hand, the lowest increases will be observed in Ville-Marie (2.6%), Saint-Léonard (3.9%) and Outremont (4.2%). For example, the tax notice for a residence of average value, or $694,541, will increase from $4,665 to $4,892, a jump of $227, which represents an increase of 4.9%. .
Real estate market in slow motion
Given the slowdown in the real estate market, Montreal forecasts that transfer tax revenues should fall by $19.6 million. The City nevertheless estimates that real estate growth should bring it an additional $40 million in tax revenue, that borough revenue should increase by $18.4 million and that parking lot revenue should increase by $3. 6 million.
Revenues from fines and penalties should, for their part, remain stable compared to 2023, reaching 188.5 million next year. As for revenues linked to the water tax, they should amount to 470.5 million, an increase of 23.2 million.
The City, which had decreed a hiring freeze at the beginning of the month, has some 400 more positions in 2024. Of this number, 188 are linked to the needs of the boroughs and 107, to the hiring of police officers. Montreal will also hire additional crossing guards. Total employee compensation will climb by $116 million, an increase of 4.4 percent, from $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion, representing 39 percent of operating expenses. According to Benoit Dorais, these choices are based on the priorities expressed by Montrealers or are already the subject of agreements with Quebec. “I think these positions are needed. »
The City's budget, however, provides that a review of the programs should lead to a reduction of 91 positions during the year 2024. The City maintains that it does not intend to carry out layoffs, but that departures from retirement, among other things, should allow it to respect its financial framework.
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Bixi will benefit from an increase
Expenditure increases are also attributable to an increase of 48.4 million dollars from the City's contribution paid to the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ARTM) for public transportation. Public security spending increases by $35.5 million.
Other spending increases include the increase in borough budgets (additional 37.6 million), the cost of collecting and processing residual materials (additional 25.3 million) and snow removal (increase of 11. 4 million).
In terms of active transportation, the self-service bicycle service Bixi will benefit from an increase in its budget of 12.7 million. Cybersecurity and the implementation of a new office suite result in a budget increase of 10.6 million.
The Plante administration also submitted a ten-year capital expenditure plan (PDI) totaling 23.9 billion which presents the investments planned for the next ten years. The 2024-2033 PDI will be marked by an emphasis on the fight against climate change, with the City intending to devote a share of 10 to 15% to projects related to adaptation to climate change. Montreal plans to invest $580.6 million in cycling infrastructure, including the Express Bike Network (REV).
In the eyes of the opposition, the budget tabled by the administration shows “contempt” for Montrealers. “The 4.9% tax increase – and 9% over two years – is huge. This is a broken promise by the administration which promised not to increase taxes beyond the projected inflation rate,” commented Saint-Laurent Mayor Alan DeSousa. However, projected inflation could reach 2.71% according to forecasts from the Quebec Ministry of Finance.
Business people and traders have not hidden their disappointment linked to the budget. “This increase in tax charges risks weakening the financial stability of local businesses already tested by current economic challenges,” believes Sébastien Ridoin, general director of the Association of Commercial Development Companies of Montreal.
The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal believes that Montreal should concentrate its spending in its areas of jurisdiction.