Just as Montrealers are trying to cope with the rising cost of living — another price hike is affecting their pocketbooks.
Property taxes are on the rise in many suburban municipalities on the island.
The average increase for the owner of a single-family home in Beaconsfield is increasing by 9.39 per cent this year.
“Very upset. My taxes have gone up at least ten per cent from last year, and that’s a big chunk of change for me,” Sara Grynspan, a Beaconsfield homeowner told Global News.
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The mayor of Beaconsfield is equally outraged.
Georges Bourelle says Montreal’s agglomeration council, the elected body that represents the entire island, is overbilling his city.
Bourelle argues the agglomeration council has billed Beaconsfield 12.74 per cent more this year compared to 2022 and that 67 per cent of Beaconsfield taxes now go to the agglomeration council.
“Awful. It’s scandalous,” Bourelle told Global News.
All cities and towns on the island have to pay the agglomeration council for shared services, like public transit, policing and fire services.
But Bourelle argues the agglomeration’s calculation to bill the suburban municipalities is unfair.
He says bills should be based on the quality and quantity of public services provided by the agglomeration council to suburban cities and towns and not based on the valuations of properties, as it is currently calculated.
“All de-merged municipalities are being heavily penalized,” he said.
Beaconsfield is suing the agglomeration council for $10 million for overbilling and the suburban city is suing the Quebec government for not doing more to change how the agglomeration council governs cities and towns on the island.
“The governance of the agglomeration is totally undemocratic,” Bourelle said.
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The average tax bill for homeowners in Montreal West is increasing by 7.96 per cent. That town’s mayor Beny Masella also puts the blame on Montreal’s agglomeration council for overbilling. He too is calling for a change in how the billing is calculated.
“It just goes to show the way that the bill is calculated now is not right,” Masella told Global News.
He’s hoping a meeting with Montreal’s executive committee in the coming months will lead to a more equitable solution.
“I want to see some opening and some positioning that says ‘oh yeah, we’re actually going to get somewhere,'” he said.
In a text message to Global News, a spokesperson for the Montreal mayor’s office wrote that the billing increases to suburban cities are largely due to the increases in home values and that Montreal is open to revisiting the financing of the agglomeration council.