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Saint-Lambert’s budget for 2021: A tax increase of only 1.35%

Tuesday 15 December 2020

On December 14, the mayor of Saint-Lambert, Pierre Brodeur, presented the 2021 budget for the City of Saint-Lambert. This budget, which is set at $58,875,213, includes all general property taxes that cover services offered by Saint-Lambert, the Agglomeration of Longueuil, and the Communauté metropolitan de Montréal (CMM).

We really would have liked to announce a tax freeze in 2021, but given an increase of 4.75% in the share of our taxes that go to the Longueuil Agglomeration, it was simply not possible. To achieve this, we would have had to cut back on or reduce the quality of our services. Despite these challenging conditions, we are proud to present this responsible budget, which respects your ability to pay by limiting the tax increase to a minimum,” said Mayor Pierre Brodeur.

Thanks to rigorous management of local spending, the increase in the overall tax bill will be limited to only 1.35%. The tax rate for local services is frozen for 2021. The increase is entirely attributable to the 4.75% increase in the share of costs for Agglomeration services.

For residences, this translates to a tax rate of $1.0021 for every $100 of valuation, compared to $0.9888 in 2020. The average tax bill for a single-family residence evaluated at $639,344 and whose value is stable will therefore increase by $85 for the year 2021.

Critical budget issue

A major budget issue for the mayor is how the Agglomeration share is calculated.

The 2021 budget posed an even greater challenge than usual, given the fiscal inequity between Saint-Lambert and other cities within the Agglomeration. The current calculation formula has the effect of placing a heavier tax burden on cities with a high proportion of their tax base coming from the residential sector, as is the case for Saint-Lambert. Using this calculation, Saint-Lambert pays approximately 1.5 times more for its Agglomeration services compared to other cities. The owner of a typical home in our city pays $3,062, while residents in other Agglomeration cities pay an average of $2,041 for the same services.1 It is this inequity that we are challenging,” said Mr. Brodeur.

The mayor considers this an important issue that he will continue to defend. “To date, our requests to re-evaluate this calculation have led nowhere. Nevertheless, the mayor of Longueuil, Sylvie Parent, has shown a willingness to discuss the Agglomeration’s tax system. Unfortunately, the other related municipalities are resistant, given that any changes could increase the tax bills for their own citizens, which they have successfully frozen for the coming year. We will continue making representations, however, because we firmly believe that an equitable solution can be found for everyone.

Main priorities

The new budget reflects City Council’s commitment to ensuring sound management of our municipal finances and to delivering high-quality services at the lowest possible cost. It was also drawn up in accordance with the following priorities:

  • controlling the wage bill;
  • not increasing administrative divisions’ budgets for variable recurring expenses;
  • not increasing the tax bill for local expenses.

New features

The 2021 budget maintains the focus on offering quality services while taking into account the impacts of COVID-19. Some measures will therefore be renewed once again in 2021:

  • Free access to sports facilities offered to organizations whose services are intended for young people in order to promote physical exercise as a healthy lifestyle;
  • Free public transport maintained for low-income seniors, by offering monthly Accès 65 HORS POINTE transit passes.
  • Maintaining investments for tree planting.

City Council has also decided to introduce the following new measures:

  • Addition of an urban planning consultant and a municipal engineering technician for water management;
  • Updating of the snow removal policy and procedures to allow overnight street parking in winter starting in the fall of 2021.

We are pleased to be able to continue working on all the aspects of municipal life that you value, while responding to the appeal by many to implement a snow removal alert system that will allow overnight street parking during the winter, starting next fall,” said Mr. Brodeur.

Investments

Controlling the debt is the main challenge faced by City Council in terms of the budget, particularly as major investments are essential if we are to continue remedying the cumulative maintenance deficit in our municipal infrastructures in order to ensure quality service for citizens.

Maintaining our city’s financial health depends on our ability to make decisions that make the best use of limited resources. Sound financial management involves balancing municipal priorities with available financial resources so that we don’t place a heavy burden on future generations. This is always at the forefront of our concerns during the annual budget exercise,” the mayor explained.         

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the members of City Council for the colossal job they did and the entire municipal administration team for their collaboration and support throughout the process,” concluded Mayor Brodeur. 


1 These figures are based on the value of an average home in Saint-Lambert in 2020.