The vote to adopt Montreal mayor Valérie Plante‘s $5.47-billion budget for the city has passed along party lines.
Forty councillors voted in favour, while 24 opposed.
The budget is expected to set the spending priorities for the year, however it only passed after an acrimonious debate that lasted almost all day Tuesday.
Councillors opposing the budget spoke out and argued against it, saying the 3.3-per-cent tax increases imposed on home owners is far too steep and difficult for some to absorb.
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“Her initial budget will be to not listen to the population, to ignore the cry of the less fortunate, whether they be renters, small merchants,” opposition city councillor Lionel Perez said.
“It’s very saddening. It’s a very sad day for Montreal.”
Perez introduced two motions to amend the budget — one offering local merchants compensation to help them deal with revenue losses due to road work, and the other to lower the water tax on home owners.
Both were defeated by Plante’s Projet Montréal team, which holds a majority of council seats.
The budget calls for spending increases of 5.2 per cent and will hike taxes on home owners by 3.3 per cent — more than double the rate of inflation.
“The bond of trust of the mayor will have been broken,” Perez said.
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Wednesday morning, Saint-Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa warned a dangerous precedent was being set because the budget was passed before the city’s capital works budget, which sets spending on major projects.
“Mayor Plante … you should apologize to all Montrealers … say you’re sorry,” DeSousa said in council chambers during the budget debate.
Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough Mayor Jim Beis warned about the consequences his residents face with this budget.
“We, in the boroughs, are faced with an influx of taxes now that we have to impose to the residents and we, ultimately, will possibly cut or raise rates for the use of our sports facilities locally,” Beis said.
Thursday, the agglomeration budget, which sets rates for the surrounding suburban cities and towns on the island, is also expected to be adopted.
Fees charged to the demerged municipalities for common island-wide services, such as public transit, police and fire protection, are increasing by more than five per cent on average.
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