The Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM), representing the Montreal agglomeration's emerged municipalities, vigorously denounces the increases in the 2022 operating budget revealed by the City of Montreal.
"The increases unveiled in the operating budget are abusive and demonstrate the extent the municipal administration of Montreal is disconnected from the financial reality of suburban cities."
"The burden upon citizens is colossal, when they already pay 56% more than those of the City of Montreal, despite receiving fewer services. The municipal administration of Montreal is increasing the chasm that creates two classes of citizens on the island of Montreal. This injustice is no longer tolerable," said Beny Masella, ASM president and mayor of Montreal West.
For a significant portion of households in demerged municipalities, the additional contribution paid to the City of Montreal for services represents an average of $710 per person. As the housing stock in the demerged municipalities is 30% rental units, the ASM fears a significant additional impact on the shoulders of many families. For a large number, the budgetary pressures are already unbearable.
However, this substantial average increase of 10.9% comes as the municipal administration of Montreal received, in 2020, significant assistance from Quebec to fill the deficit caused by the pandemic. Therefore, these systemic budget increases prompt the reflection of mayors of demerged municipalities, who consider that Montreal must make a better effort to contain its spending and ensure sound management of its budget.
They note, among other things, that year after year, under the leadership of Mayor Valérie Plante or since her arrival, the municipal administration overestimates its revenues from fines and penalties, and the City of Montreal has 1,345 more positions (year/person). This significant number of new employees represents the astronomical sum of $ 286M, the bill of which is now obviously relegated to the taxpayers.
Contrary to what the municipal administration claims in its financial framework, the agglomeration quotas are not increasing by 2.5%, but by 3.3%. In its calculation, the municipal administration fails to consider previous deficits. When comparing apples to apples (operating budget), the increase appears to be much higher than the 2.6% inflation rate projected for 2022 by the Conference Board of Canada.
The ASM points out that the mayors of the suburban cities of the island of Montreal refuse to sign a blank check to the municipal administration of Montreal. To prepare their respective budgets properly, they need to know the non-recurring part of the deficit of $211M in 2020 (direct and indirect covid effect), which is the result of a structural deficit. This essential information is necessary to establish the increase in taxation with more predictability to compensate for the agglomeration quotes-parts for this year and for years to come.
For Mr. Masella, "The principle of equity that should at least guide the City of Montreal is non- existent. Tax inequity is still present, and the municipal administration of Montreal, just like Mayor Plante, is taking no real action to establish a more respectful base of taxpayers throughout the territory. It is abnormal that in 2022 the gap in the supply of services will continue to widen. The citizens of the suburban municipalities always pay more for fewer police officers on the island and a level of public transport that is far from the level in Montreal ".
The ASM recalls that demerged municipalities have been excluded again in the preparation of the 2022 fiscal year and that the current process is outdated. It does not ensure a fair and equitable calculation of quotes-parts for the distribution of urban expenses.
"The current quotes-parts calculation process is undemocratic and perpetuates injustices against our citizens. Democracy is the foundation upon which is built trust in government institutions. The mayors of suburban municipalities have democratically been elected by their citizens to represent them, following models recognized in our society. In this sense, the other levels of government must recognize them and invite them to take part in any decision that affects them," concluded Mr. Masella.
About the Association of Suburban Municipalities The Association of Suburban Municipalities is an association of fifteen demerged municipalities of the Montreal agglomeration, each autonomous in its municipal management and voice. Together they count 250,000 citizens. These municipalities are Baie-d'Urfé, Beaconsfield, Côte- Saint-Luc, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval, L'Île-Dorval, Hampstead, Kirkland, Montreal-East, Montreal-West, Mount-Royal, Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Senneville and Westmount.