• James Armstrong

Rigaud residents face substantial tax hike for 2018

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. broke the news to residents at the January 16 budget meeting that taxes in Rigaud will increase by eight per cent.

Rigaud property taxes are slated to increase by eight per cent for 2018 it was announced at the conclusion of the second of two special council meetings held Tuesday, January 16. The first meeting dealt with the presentation of the budget for 2018 followed by a meeting outlining the proposed rates and tariffs schedule resulting from the budget.

Defending the increase

“About half of that increase is due to the costs of the flooding in 2017,” said Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. adding, “We have no choice but to absorb those costs.” He said Rigaud has a taxation system allowing for application by sector and the costs could have been levied on the flood zone sectors only.

“Our councillors chose to have everyone pay because we are a community and we support each other,” said Gruenwald.

Residents in attendance raised concerns regarding the extra costs associated with the construction of the new town hall.

“Yes, there were extra costs because we realized we needed more space and a generator that can run 24/7 in a power outage,” replied the mayor. He said the town hall is functional and not an extravagant building.

Fixed costs

“About 80 per cent of the costs in the annual budget are fixed. We have no control over them,” said the mayor using the cost of electricity as an example. When asked about cost-cutting measures, Gruenwald replied, “We went through this budget item by item. We are working very close to the line.”

According to the budget, expenses for 2018 total $14,350,304, an increase of $1,167,241 over the 2017 budget.

“That’s the reality of the situation and we have to assume our responsibility,” said the mayor.

Attracting new business

Several residents were concerned the tax increase would scare off potential businesses and homeowners. The mayor replied by saying the entire economic picture of the town has to be considered.

“We have a low long-term debt situation compared to other towns, about $12 million,” he said. “When we invite companies to consider our industrial parks, we ask them what kind of jobs they are providing, minimum wage or higher, because we are looking for better paying jobs,” he added. “Any town council that says they won’t raise tax rates are simply pushing the expenses into the future.”

Organic material collection program

The budget also included the costs associated with starting the collection of organic material for composting. The program is slated to begin mid-year after the town purchases the bins.

“There are a lot of steps to initiate the process,” said the mayor, specifying the long-term plan is to keep the entire composting process in the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS). There are plans at the MRC-VS level for the shared purchase of a specialized machine that will turn the collected organic material into compost. “The goal is to provide business and job opportunities in our region.”

A special town council meeting is planned for Monday, January 22 to approve the rates and tariffs ruling for 2018.

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