Vaudreuil-Dorion one of 23 MRC municipalities calling for taxation overhaul
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Vaudreuil-Dorion council adopted a resolution during the Monday evening council meeting to
support efforts by the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges to get
the provincial government to overhaul its municipal taxation system regarding its fiscal pact
Vaudreuil-Dorion council adopted a resolution during the Monday evening council meeting, March 2, to support efforts by the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges to get the provincial government to overhaul its municipal taxation system regarding its fiscal pact with municipalities.
All 23 municipalities that comprise the MRC are expected to adopt similar resolutions this month. The main issue regarding the fiscal pact is the $300 million in transfer payment cuts that were made to cities and town throughout Quebec last November by Liberal Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau as part of the government’s efforts to reduce its deficit and balance its budget.
The problem is that the government is trying to balance its budget by shifting the tax burden away from the province and onto the shoulders of municipalities who have to make up their budgetary shortfall by increasing residential property taxes, said Mayor Guy Pilon.
Vaudreuil-Dorion raised their property taxes by 3.4 per cent for 2015 to make up for the shortfall. Another onerous reality for municipalities is that they have to assume more responsibility for government programs and services that were previously under the domain of the province without receiving any compensation for their new administrative role, such as managing the Centre local de développement (CLD) Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
As a result, all costs and expenses related to the transfer of programs and services now have to be absorbed by municipalities either through higher taxes or cutbacks in services, neither of which is a suitable option, said Pilon. “The government always has a good strategy to tell its citizens that it won’t increase their taxes,” Pilon told Your Local Journal.
“The fact is they don’t increase taxes because in many ways they shovel the burden on the towns. This way government doesn’t have to raise taxes but it’s the towns that have to make up the shortfall. This is the problem we have.” The MRC itself had to cut 20 per cent of its operating budget for 2015 to just over $21.3 million as a result of provincial transfer payment cuts.
The budget shortfall resulted in the cancellation of the planned implementation of organic waste collection program for at least one year. “With the cuts from the provincial government, we had no other choice if we wanted to strengthen economic development and adopt a balanced budget,’ said Jean Lalonde, MRC Prefect and Mayor of Très St. Rédempteur last November.
Part of the MRC proposal that was adopted by Vaudreuil-Dorion calls on the provincial government to conduct a major overhaul of municipal taxation as proposed in the White Paper from the Union des municipalités du Québec and Blue Book from the Fédération québécoise des municipalités.
The proposal stated, “This would ensure that a balanced provincial budget is not done at the expense of municipalities, regional authorities and citizens through transfer payment cuts or by implementing the current Municipal Taxation Act, an unsuitable tax system which does not allow municipalities and regional authorities to provide the necessary services to citizens and to continue creating wealth and vitality in all regions of Quebec.”