Municipality’s financial situation is solid, claim city officials
In a report on its most recent financial situation, the City of Laval says it has a surplus of $85.6 million, including $42.3 million granted by Quebec to deal locally with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Putting money aside
According to a statement issued by the city, $24 million of the surplus will be placed directly in reserve funds for future financial obligations, including employee pensions, as well as contingency for unexpected natural disasters and other events such as flooding.
The city says the $42.3 million will be placed in the 2021 operating budget, which is paying for measures to relaunch Laval’s economy and to maintain a tax freeze. After that, $20 million will be used to top up other funds.
Breakdown of surplus
The city said the $85.6 million could be broken down this way:
$42.3 million in COVID-19 assistance from Quebec will be used over the course of 2021;
$22.9 million comes from “welcome tax” charged when houses are bought and sold and change owners;
$10 million from a one-time financial occurrence arising from an out-of-court settlement;
‘We lived up to our commitments, despite the pandemic,’ says Mayor Marc Demers
$4.8 million from tax revenues and compensation in lieu of taxes due to strong recent urban growth.
“In 2020, we pledged to improve services for citizens,” said Mayor Marc Demers. “We lived up to our commitments, despite the pandemic. Thanks to our rigorous approach to finances, Laval has known how to control its expenses while continuing to be able to offer quality services to its residents, notably in snow removal and the planting of greenery.”
Forging ahead, says Boyer
Deputy mayor and executive-committee vice-president Stéphane Boyer added, “The margins to maneuver will allow us to pursue our efforts to realize various relaunch operations, for the economy, the environment, culture and social solidarity. A consultation with all the players that is currently underway is sure to be a source of many fertile ideas.”
According to the city, more than 90 per cent of the current surplus was because of the growth of the city’s finances, with support provided by the province. The city said that the healthy real estate market in Laval also contributed. As such, the city took in $23 million in transfer taxes last year.
Impact of the pandemic
The city estimates the financial impact of the pandemic over the course of 2020-2021 at $52.4 million, not counting sums accorded to the Société de transport de Laval for maintenance of its services. However, snow removal costs rose with larger snow falls, while the city also spent more on snow removal as it had previously pledged to improve the service.
As well, the city spent more on the development of social housing. Through its special Place-du-Souvenir Fund, the city also allotted more funding to non-profit groups throughout Laval. The city handed out more subsidies to residents who wished to buy electric bicycles, registering a 54 per cent increase over the previous year for this.
Electric vehicle purchase
During this same time, Laval acquired 56 electric vehicles for $2.7 million ($2.2 million after subsidies from higher governments were applied). And the city planted 51,000 shrubs and trees, compared to 4,500 in 2019.
Taking into account 2020 was a pandemic year, the city says it managed all the same to carry out 74.2 per cent of its $336.1 million in PTI budget investments for 2020, which was even better in terms of performance than previous years.
These disbursements were on infrastructure such as roads, bike paths, walking paths, as well as sewers and water. The city says that despite the pandemic, it’s in a good position to face the unforeseen.