For the first time in Montreal history, the city’s budget is more than $6 billion. The 2020 fiscal plan focuses on public transit, environment, housing and economic development.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s third budget of $6.1 billion, which is an increase of $463 million over last year, was unveiled Monday. She described it as a “budget for all Montrealers” that is meant to improve local services.
Under the plan, property taxes are increasing by 2.1 per cent on average for homeowners, but the rate varies depending on where you live.
The largest increase is in the borough of Verdun with a 3.2 per cent increase, followed by the boroughs of Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce and Plateau-Mont-Royal at 3.1 per cent.
Business taxes for merchant owners are also increasing to the tune of 1.5 per cent. The largest increase is in Outremont at 3.4 per cent followed by the Sud-Ouest borough at 3.3 per cent.
Some of the suburban cities and towns on the island are also facing increases in the amount they will have to pay to Montreal for shared services. On average, the bills to Montreal are increasing by 2.1 per cent. However, some borough are facing higher increases. Hampstead’s increase is 11.4 per cent and Beaconsfield is 11.3 per cent.
Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle is upset with the boost in property taxes, saying residents are on the hook for it.
“We’re going to be looking at anything that we can do to certainly contest or object to this increase,” he said.
As part of the Plante administration’s budget, massive investments are continuing for infrastructure projects and public transit.
“We want to make sure when we invest Montrealers get full value of their tax dollars,” Plante said during a Monday morning press conference.
In 2020, $506 million is earmarked for the maintenance and repairing of roads.
The city is also pledging $497 million for water infrastructure. This includes an additional $7.9 million to replace lead pipes.
The contributions to the Autorité regionale de transport metropolitain (ARTM), which oversees the mass transit systems in greater Montreal, is increasing by $69 million. A large part of the funding will go toward the acquisition of new city buses.
As part of the plan, 2,200 electric bikes will also be added to the BIXI bike sharing network. The Montreal Mobility squad will also receive a budget increase of 55 per cent, bringing its total amount to $1.4 million.
Salaries for employees are also increasing by 4.5 per cent or $80 million — largely due to pay raises and the hiring of new staff. But overall salaries now make up 38 per cent of the total city spending. It’s the first time it has dropped below the 40 per cent threshold.
Plante’s big focus is on mass transit, improving the environment, housing and economic development. More money is also being invested in parks, libraries and other public services.
— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise