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Get ready for a heftier tax bill, Montrealers.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration unveiled its $6.99-billion financial roadmap for 2024, with the mayor calling it a “responsible” budget with a modest increase in spending. Municipal spending will rise by $235 million — or 3.5 per cent — from the previous year, largely because of rising costs for things such as snow removal, garbage collection and gasoline.
Cities are at the forefront of global upheavals, including the opioid crisis and climate change, and face growing needs related to homelessness and mental health care, Plante told reporters.
“Montreal is the flashpoint for the crying needs that are specific to major cities here but also elsewhere, which are the local consequences of the major international conflicts that are shaking us up,” she said.
“I am thinking, among other things, of the opioid crisis, which is everywhere in North America and which is wreaking havoc, and many other vulnerabilities, such as the issue of homelessness and even mental health.”
Homeowners and business owners will have to dole out more money under the plan.
Property taxes for residential buildings and dwellings will rise by an average of 4.9 per cent across the city — which the Plante administration touts is lower than the greater Montreal area’s high inflation rate of 5.2 per cent recorded last August.
But the average property hike for residents next year will be higher than the provincial inflation rate of 4.6 per cent, according to the city’s documents.
The biggest hike is a 7.2 per cent average increase for the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough while Anjou is not far behind with 6.3 per cent. The Mercier—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce boroughs will also climb by 5.8 and 5.5 per cent, respectively.
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Which neighbourhoods will see the lowest rise in property taxes? Homeowners in the central borough of Ville-Marie will pay 2.6 per cent more on their next bill while the Saint-Leonard borough will see a 3.9 per cent increase.
This represents an average increase of $227 for a single-family home valued at $694,541, according to the budget documents.
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Business owners will also be hit with higher property taxes — with some areas to see staggering increases in the double digits.
The average increase in Montreal will be 4.6 per cent, but merchants in the Lachine and Saint-Laurent boroughs will be hit with 14.3 and and 12.1 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, people living in the 15 municipalities on the Island of Montreal will also be charged 6.1 per cent more to pay for shared public services including police and fire departments as well as public transit. This could lead to higher property taxes for homeowners in the cities and towns as their respective mayors prepare to release their budgets.
More money for public transit, police
Some of the city’s largest spending increases are for public transit. The city anticipates spending an additional $48.4 million in 2024.
The bulk of the increase — $34 million — will be used to cover the bus and Metro fares of seniors. As one of its key election promises, the Plante administration introduced the measure last summer.
The biggest cost in Montreal’s budget is public security, at 18.3 per cent. The Montreal police department will get a $33.8-million increase to its budget.
Debt serving accounts for 16.6 per cent of the budget, while the city’s 19 boroughs will get an additional $37.6 million.
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When it comes to snow removal services, the city earmarked an additional $11 million for the upcoming year.
The Plante administration is also planning on adding another 400 jobs to its staff of more than 28,000 employees. Salaries will also rise by 4.4 per cent, equivalent to $116 million.
‘Disconnected’ from priorities, opposition charges
Plante has described the latest budget as one that “reflects our priorities, our ambitions and our collective aspirations for the Montreal of tomorrow” while also “respecting” the city’s capabilities.
But Ensemble Montréal, the official opposition at city hall, accused the administration of being “disconnected” from Montrealers’ priorities.
In a statement, leaders said they are worried the increase in property taxes will not only put pressure on homeowners, but that renters will also feel the pinch and end up footing the bill.
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“Projet Montréal is the very incarnation of the caviar left,” said Saint-Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa, who also represents the Ensemble Montréal on financial matters.
“This 2024 budget is the image of an administration cloistered in its ivory tower while Montrealers are no longer able to find housing, get around and pay for their groceries.”
Among other factors, Ensemble Montréal also criticized additional hires and salary increases laid out in the budget. The party claims the Plante administration “finances its extravagant and irresponsible expenses at the expense of taxpayers.”
— with files from The Canadian Press
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