Increased agglo costs result in 1.5 per cent residential property tax rise in Ste. Anne’s for 2021
By John Jantak
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Homeowners in Ste. Anne de Bellevue will see their residential property taxes rise by 1.5 per cent in 2021 due to a four per cent increase in the cost the city has to pay to the Montreal agglomeration for services including police and firefighting, drinking water and waste water management, waste treatment, and public transit.
Homeowners in Ste. Anne de Bellevue will see their property taxes increase 1.5 per cent next year after city council adopted its 2021 budget during a special session on Wednesday, December 16.
Mayor Paola Hawa said the increase in its residential property tax rate is directly tied to a four per cent rise in the amount of money the city has to pay to the City of Montreal as being part of the agglomeration for 2021. Ste. Anne’s share amounts to $7,551,212, which represents 41.1 per cent of its $18,350,766 budget for next year.
Tax break not practical
“Council would have preferred to have given residents a tax break this year and frozen taxes but it wasn’t practical,” Hawa told The Journal. “We can’t freeze taxes. It’s not realistic to do in our situation. We had a four per cent increase in our quotas for the agglomeration. It’s close to $300,000. That’s a lot of money. It’s not fair.
“We could have done a tax freeze although realistically we can’t afford it. We could have done that especially since 2021 is an election year but we prefer to be responsible and do the long-term planning. Instead of going zero this year and doubling the taxes next year, we’re making it more realistic and we will incrementally try to finance our agglomeration increase,” said Hawa.
Montreal tax freeze
The increased costs imposed on the demerged cities within the agglomeration helped Montreal to place a freeze on business and residential taxes for 2021, according to Hawa.
“They look great because they froze their tax rate but the agglomeration got an increase. They look like heroes but they’re getting the money from somewhere and it just happens to be from the demerged cities. It a smoke-and-mirrors thing when it comes to Montreal,” said Hawa.
Level of service declining
The mayor also said despite the overall increasing costs paid by the agglomeration each year, the level of services provided by Montreal such as police and public transit keeps declining. Hawa also feels a ‘user pay’ structure would be a more equitable system.
“We’re overpaying for these services to begin with. There is no correlation between what we pay and the service that we get. We are getting fewer services now even though we’re now paying more. The curves are going in different directions,” she added.
The nearby Town of Beaconsfield has also been very vocal about taxes paid to the Montreal agglomeration. On December 16, Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle and council wrote in their monthly newsletter that they are demanding the City of Montreal repay $4 million for excess taxes paid to the agglomeration for 2020 and 2021.
Another increase next year
“We pay for public transit but I challenge you to find efficient public transit to the West Island,” said Hawa. “We pay for police that serve five West Island cities. It’s not a negative to the police station we have. They do fantastic work and they’re great partners but when they have their resources tapped, there’s only so much in terms of service they can provide to us.”
The city is also projecting another substantial increase from the agglomeration next year. “From what we can see we’ll have an even bigger increase from the agglomeration because that’s when we’ll really feel the full hit of all these COVID-19 measures that have been implemented.”