January 16, 2018
Ms. Valérie Plante
Mayor and President of the Agglomeration
City of Montreal
275 Notre-Dame East
Subject: Revision of the 2018 budget for the Agglomeration of Montreal
Your Worship, Mayor Plante,
As you are aware, the 2018 budget for the City and Agglomeration of Montreal filed on Wednesday, January 10th, came as a shock and disappointment to both me and my fellow mayors of the 15 suburban municipalities on the island of Montreal.
On Friday, January 12th, we felt compelled to go public, through our Association of Suburban Municipalities, to request a revision of this inflationary budget on behalf of the 246,000 residents of our municipalities. Our citizens expect us to exercise our responsibilities as public administrators in a serious and rigorous manner to ensure the future of our municipal infrastructure, facilities and buildings while also taking into account their ability to pay, both now and in the long term. This is equally true for the population of Westmount.
It is in this spirit, and as full partners with Montreal in the Agglomeration, that we ask you to reduce this budget which as presented, contradicts the public promises you made during the recent mayoral election campaign – promises which should still be respected now that you have been elected.
Along with the residents of our municipalities, and in our capacity as public administrators, we believed those promises and prepared our local budgets accordingly, with the understanding that any tax increases would fall within the inflation rate.
With all due respect, you reiterated your commitment to submitting a budget below the inflation rate even after discovering a budgetary gap of $358 million. According to the latest statement by the Conference Board of Canada, the projected inflation rate for 2018 is 1.7%. The Agglomeration budget, however, represents an average increase of 5.3% in our quotes-part, which is three times the rate of inflation.
In the case of Westmount, your decision will result in an additional increase of $3.5 million (6.7%), in our contribution to the Agglomeration, which equates to a direct hit of $440 per average single family dwelling. In simple terms, this means that to accommodate such an unexpected increased expense, we must completely review all our operations and commitments previously contemplated in our 2018 budget – and only two weeks from the legal deadline for passing the budget.
We feel that you have acted with a complete lack of consideration for the residents and administration of Westmount, notwithstanding the fact that about 50% our total budget is sent to the Agglomeration each year.
As the leader of the Agglomeration, you have both a legal and moral obligation to ensure that our 246,000 taxpayers (whose cities contribute an average of 50% of their budgets to cover the costs of Agglomeration services), can continue to enjoy services from their municipalities which align with their ability to pay and which safeguards the future of our infrastructure, facilities, buildings and commitments.
As democratically elected administrators, all of us must treat the public with respect in carrying out our duties. The fact that we are urgently requesting a budget revision has no political motivation; indeed, we are not your public adversaries. Rather, we want our administrations to be full partners with your own.
Please be assured that we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate fully and openly with you in the budget revision exercise so that all of us – and all residents of the Island of Montreal – can emerge as winners.
Christina M. Smith
Mayor of Westmount
Member of the Association of Suburban Municipalities
c.c. Mr. Martin Coiteux, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy
Mr. Jacques Chagnon, MP for Westmount–Saint-Louis