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Montreal budget 2024: Higher property taxes, more police funding

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Heads up, Montreal homeowners: your taxes are going up next year.

The City of Montreal unveiled its nearly $7 billion 2024 budget on Wednesday, once again raising property taxes by the biggest margin since 2011.

Residential property taxes collected by the city will go up by an average of 4.9 per cent, up from last year's increase of 4.1 per cent.

The increase varies by borough, with Pierrefonds-Roxboro residents facing the largest uptick (7.2 per cent), followed by Anjou (6.3 per cent) and Mercier—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (5.8 per cent).

Ville-Marie will see by far the lowest increase at 2.6 per cent. Saint-Léonard comes in a relatively distant second at 3.9 per cent.

Mayor Valérie Plante's administration had assured the tax increase wouldn't exceed inflation, and the city stayed true to its promise: annual inflation in Montreal was measured at 5.2 per cent in August by the Quebec Statistics Institute (ISQ).

However, the tax increase surpasses inflation for Quebec overall (4.6 per cent) and Canada (four per cent).

As for non-residential properties, the average tax increase across the city will be 4.6 per cent.

"For me, it's about protecting all the services," Plante told reporters as she responded to questions about tax hikes. "This is part of the fundamental mission of the city, to make sure that arenas are open, libraries, that snow removal continues."

"That being said, I understand that this is a very difficult economic context for Montreal," she continued. "[Montrealers are] being hit by inflation hard, and the city is as well." 

 

$7 BILLION BUDGET

The tax hikes come as Montreal plans to increase its spending by $235 million (up 3.5 per cent) for a total of $6.99 billion. It's an increase of nearly 23 per cent since 2019.

Montreal also presented its estimated 10-year, $23.9 billion capital-works budget on Wednesday.

The funds concern long-term infrastructure projects, including water infrastructure and road maintenance, as well as projects combatting the effects of climate change.

Due to unexpected costs, including natural disasters and fewer home purchases, the city says it found itself short about $80 million in 2023.

Last month, the Plante administration said it would not fill 400 vacant municipal jobs and would postpone non-urgent spending to help compensate for the loss.

 

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Montreal says it will increase its contribution to the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) by $48.4 million, for a total of $715.6 million.

Earlier this month, after much back-and-forth, the Quebec government said it would cover 70 per cent of the deficit facing Montreal-area transit companies due to low ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite protests from transit companies, including the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), Quebec Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the offer was "final."

Montreal says it is reserving $34.4 million so seniors can continue using public transit for free.

POLICE

The 2024 budget includes $821 million for the Montreal police force (SPVM), an increase of $35 million from the previous year.

Part of these funds will go towards hiring 225 additional police officers, the city announced Wednesday.

The fire department (SIM) will also hire 33 specialists in "fire prevention."

Also, $10 million will be invested in the EMMIS project, which responds to calls from the SPVM requiring psychosocial intervention, often involving the unhoused population.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante presents her 2024 budget on Nov. 15, 2023. (Noovo Info)

HOUSING

Montreal has earmarked $582.3 million for affordable, social and community housing.

The bulk ($555.3 million) will go towards acquiring land and properties, while $27 million will finance construction costs.

Meanwhile, $6.5 million has been allocated for programs helping those experiencing homelessness. 

WHAT ABOUT NON-RESIDENTIAL TAXES?

Taxes are also going up for non-residential properties, for an average increase of 4.6 per cent.

Lachine businesses face the most significant hurdle (14.3 per cent), followed by Saint-Laurent (12.1 per cent) and Anjou (9.8 per cent).

Exceptionally, taxes will actually go down for the Ville-Marie borough by 0.9 per cent.

The second lowest is Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, with an increase of 4.1 per cent. 

 

HOMEOWNERS 'FOOTING THE BILL': OPPOSITION

The city's budget announcement was met with swift criticism from the opposition, who admonished the Plante administration for raising property taxes to such a degree amid a housing crisis.

"In an era of severe housing crisis, Ensemble Montréal is concerned about the repercussions tax hikes will have on homeowners, and particularly on renters, who are likely to foot the bill," reads a statement from the party.

It also accused the municipal government of failing to adequately address homelessness in its budget.

"Only $500,000 more than last year is in the budget for homelessness, which represents 0.09 per cent of the city's total budget," the statement continues.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation also spoke against the budget following its release.

"This budget includes lots of plans to spend more, but not a single one to make life more affordable for Montrealers," said Nicolas Gagnon, Quebec director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, in a statement.

The organization argues property taxes would slow down construction of new properties and increase housing costs overall.

"Metro Montreal already has some of the highest housing costs in the country and raising taxes will make homes even more unaffordable," said Gagnon.

LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: Montreal budget: OCPM gets more funding, residents faced with largest tax increase in 14 years 

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