• John Jantak

St. Lazare mayoral candidate Jolicoeur proposes two-year tax freeze


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

District 1 Councillor Lise Jolicoeur recently announced she will run as mayor of St. Lazare in the upcoming municipal election.

Councillor Lise Jolicoeur, who recently said she will run for Mayor of St. Lazare, would not raise residential tax rates for two years and curb what she feels has been extravagant spending on infrastructure projects, if elected.

Jolicouer felt it’s important residents get a break from the substantial annual residential property tax increases in the past four years, she told Your Local Journal during an interview on October 9 as she outlined her campaign platform.

It’s crucial for the town to adopt sensible strategies to better manage taxpayers’ money and listen to what residents have to say about how their money is being used, she said. “It’s the people who are paying the taxes and they are ones who should be telling council what they want and don’t want,” said Jolicoeur.

New Town Hall

The recently opened new town hall is one example how council could have reduced the overall cost of the project by agreeing to build a smaller structure which would have also reduced the financial impact on taxpayers.

“St. Lazare has 20,000 residents, no industry and a very small commercial base, why should residents have to pay $11 million for a town hall? I just don’t get it. People understood we needed to have a new town hall, but they didn’t approve of the money that was spent,” said Jolicoeur.

As a comparison, Jolicoeur said the new three-storey Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges headquarters in on Harwood Boulevard in Vaudreuil-Dorion was built for about $6 million to serve the 140,000 residents that live in the 23 municipalities of our region.

“I also agree we needed a new building but I didn’t agree with the money that was spent,” said Jolicoeur. “I specifically asked the mayor (Robert Grimaudo), the council and the director general to reduce the amount. It was too much and people didn’t want that.”

Festival au Galop

The annual Festival au Galop which has been held in early summer for the past three years is another unnecessary expenditure that will be discontinued if she is elected, said Jolicoeur. Since its inception, many residents have regularly complained to council they don’t want to pay for the festival through their taxes.

The town spent an estimated $1.1 million including salaries to stage the event in 2015. “It costs a lot of money. In the first year (District 2 Councillor) Pamela Tremblay said it would become self-financing, but it’s far from there. It cost $385,000 this year and this doesn’t include the salaries of our municipal employees who are there before, during and after the event,” said Jolicoeur.

She feels a smaller event that includes local small businesses and artisans promoting their wares is a better way to highlight the town’s equestrian heritage and would enhance community participation and spirit.

Proposed roundabout and public security

A proposed roundabout slated for possible construction at the intersection of Avenue Bédard and Chemin St. Louis sometime in 2018 would also be scrapped. “It will cost $2 million and people don’t want it. I’m going to stop that project,” said Jolicoeur.

She’s also concerned about speeding cars that run stop signs and people talking or texting on their cell phones while driving. “Stop signs don’t mean anything. We need something to capture drivers’ attention. More speed bumps could be something to consider,” she said.

Council experience

Her four years as District 1 Councillor have given her the experience to successfully run the town, Jolicoeur said. She noted that Grimaudo was never a municipal councillor and he was elected as mayor during a by-election in June 2012.

“Does this mean it’s not feasible for me not to run for mayor? Absolutely not. Residents need a mayor who is down to earth, who will listen and understand what they want.” said Jolicoeur.