Longueuil residents will experience average tax increases of 3.4% next year. The administration of Catherine Fournier maintained that the financial situation of the City of Longueuil had been weakened by the tax freeze three out of four years during the previous mandate.
The city council approved the city’s 2022 budget on Wednesday evening, which will reach $ 487.9 million, up 5.8% from the previous year.
The City was facing a shortfall of $ 27 million and had to dip into its reserves to start filling it. Mayor Catherine Fournier believes that in this context, the average tax increase of 3.4%, below the cumulative inflation rate from January to October, was reasonable. “The labor shortage and extremely high inflation this year are causing a lot of uncertainty. This is why we wanted a budget that is measured and focused on sound management of public finances, ”she indicated during the special meeting of the city council on Wednesday evening.
The person in charge of finances, Jonathan Tabarah, explained that Longueuil was one of the big cities in Quebec where the tax rate was among the lowest and that a catch-up was necessary. “We can no longer allow tax freezes over the next few years if we want to ensure that the City is in good financial position,” he argued.
Worn last November 7, Mayor Fournier reported that her administration had been able to put its “color” on this budget, the development of which was already very advanced. In particular, an amount of $ 250,000 has been earmarked for the creation of the Citizen Participation Office promised during the election campaign. The first mandates that will be entrusted to this organization will relate to the issue of exterior wood fires and the development of Saint-Hubert airport.
Ville de Longueuil has also agreed to spread the three-year assessment roll 2022-2023-2024 – which shows an average increase of 26% in the value of properties – in order to mitigate the effects on the account of taxes. Note that the increases in value are particularly significant in the boroughs of Greenfield Park and Saint-Hubert.
The Omicron variant
The leader of the opposition and elected of Longueuil Ensemble, Jacques Lemire, voted against the budget. He would have liked the City to adopt its budget in January given the pandemic situation. “The budget was prepared as if nothing had changed when we know that the Omicron variant could hurt our public finances. […] A few additional weeks would have allowed us to better understand the impact of the variant, ”he explained.
A citizen asked if, after Mayor Fournier’s decision to reduce her salary by $ 65,000, councilors would freeze their own salaries. Jonathan Tabarah rejected this idea, however. “It wouldn’t be about penalizing those of us who need this compensation at all. Being elected is an excessively demanding job that puts us at risk every day, both reputational and professional risk. At the end of our four-year mandate, our seats are ejectable, ”he argued. He said, however, that the salary increase for advisers would be “reasonable”.