Martin C. Barry
Comparing Action Laval leader Jean-Claude Gobé’s recent pledge to reduce property taxes by 3 per cent with U.S. president Donald Trump’s habit of distorting facts, Laval mayor Marc Demers is dismissing Gobé’s campaign promise as a short-sighted attempt to win votes in the Nov. 5 municipal election.
ML incumbents are back
Demers made the comparison last week during a press conference held by his party, the incumbent Mouvement Lavallois, to announce candidates in eastern Laval districts.
While ML incumbents are running again in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Paolo Galati), Val-des-Arbres (Christiane Yoakim), Duvernay-Pont Viau (Stéphane Boyer), Vimont (Michel Poissant), Saint-Bruno (David De Cotis) and Auteuil (Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier), a newcomer, Éric Morasse, is running for the ML in Saint-François.
Gobé pledged 3 per cent cut
While announcing Action Laval’s campaign promises last week, Gobé stated that Demers “has raised taxes by 6.5 per cent over the past few years. Laval residents are out of breath. I am announcing a 3.0 per cent decrease in property taxes in the first budget of my term as mayor of Laval.”
At the ML’s press conference the following day, Demers reacted this way. “He (Gobé) didn’t mention anything about the impact of doing so, so he’s buying a car without knowing what the price is. So I don’t think it’s possible. And if he ever gets elected, I don’t think it will be possible. And if it is it’s going to be at the cost of many, many sacrifices.
Keeping balanced, says Demers
“One thing you have to keep in mind,” Demers continued, “is to keep the proper balance between your finances, obligations and things you have to pay. Otherwise Standard & Poors will not give you a good credit rating. And if you don’t have a good credit rating the interest will go up. The City of Laval has long-term debt on which we don’t want the interest rate to go up.”
Regarding Gobé’s claim the ML raised taxes 6.5 per cent, Demers acknowledged it, but pointed out that the increase was spread over four years. He said the average over that period actually comes out to 1.62 per cent, “which is lower than any major city in Quebec.”
Marked increase one year
Demers noted that the City of Montreal raised its property taxes an average 2 per cent, not including local increases by the boroughs. But he also admitted that during one exceptional year during the ML’s term, the ML administration took the extraordinary measure of raising property taxes by 3.2 per cent because the Quebec government had stopped payment of a multimillion dollar subsidy while retaliating in a dispute with Laval.
“And one other thing,” added Demers. “In 2013 – it wasn’t because of us – but the residential taxes were frozen. So in 2014 the taxes were frozen, and that had consequences. So that was two years in a row. It was not our doing in 2013, but we have to live with the consequences.”
Residential taxes frozen
According to the city’s budget for 2013, most single-family home owners in Laval were not called upon to pay higher taxes for the following year, although other residential property owners would see increases at around the prevailing two per cent rate of inflation.
In the 2013 budget which was tabled by newly-installed mayor Alexandre Duplessis following the departure of former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, nearly 55 per cent of residential property owners would see their taxes frozen or reduced.