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Residents and mayors of demerged cities call for Plante to revisit budget

WATCH ABOVE: Local residents and West Island mayors attended a rally Sunday and called on Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante to revisit the 2018 budget. Global's Felicia Parrillo reports.

On Sunday afternoon, West Islanders came out and spoke up.

“I was disappointed because her sign that was right behind her said I will not raise the taxes,” said Pointe-Claire resident Sandy Fuller. “And I think she just decided that once she was in, well I won my position as first woman mayor, and now I’m going to give them the budget.”

The 2018 budget Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante presented has been widely criticized, mainly because of its tax increase.

READ MORE: Montreal budget 2018: Tax increases target homeowners

She had previously vowed to keep tax hikes around the inflation rate, but that isn’t what happened.

For Montrealers, the average overall bill is going up by 3.3 per cent.

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“We need to forget when we say the West Island is an affluent community that can afford any increase, that’s not the case,” said Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis.

“And even the ones that can afford it, they shouldn’t have to when it’s not justified.”

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READ MORE: Montreal suburban mayors and residents stunned over tax hike

But the hike doesn’t end there.

Increases also affect Montreal Island suburbs.

Demerged municipalities are being asked to contribute, on average, an extra 5.3 per cent for services Montreal shares with them.

The hardest hit are the Town of Mount Royal and Montreal West who will need to pay an extra 9 per cent.

Municipalities like Dorval Island, Westmount and Pointe-Claire will also see hefty increases.

READ MORE: Westmount blames tax hike on Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the only city that saw a decrease in its contribution.

“I’m hoping a message was sent to Mme. Plante, who needs to sit with the 15 demerged municipalities, the 14 mayors of those cities, and sit down and really get a realistic check on what we can handle and this just isn’t it,” said the rally’s organizer, Rhonda Massad.

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Many West Island mayors attended Sunday’s rally and insist that the tax hike isn’t justified.

Residents and elected officials at the rally at Pointe-Claire’s city hall, on Sunday, January 21, 2018.
Residents and elected officials at the rally at Pointe-Claire’s city hall, on Sunday, January 21, 2018. Felicia Parrillo/Global News

“It’s one thing to pay increased taxes, it’s another thing to pay increased taxes and get less services,”said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa. “In Plante’s budget, she has another $26 million for public transport.

READ MORE: Mayors hope to change Valérie Plante’s mind on fee hikes

“Does anybody really believe that any of that extra money is going to come to the West Island? I don’t think so.”

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A petition for Plante to revisit the budget has already garnered hundreds of signatures in hopes the Montreal mayor listens.

“I’m asking Valérie Plante – answer your phone,” said Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson. “Last week, we basically called you to have a meeting, not to explain why you’re increasing it, but what are you planning to do to revise this unbelievable increase in tax. Not only to your own residents but to the agglomeration’s expense.

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“Valérie Plante, she didn’t reply, even by a yes or no, and to me, that’s a lack of respect.”

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