But Société de transport de Laval and water tax hikes will add $20 to each bill
In an interview this week with the Laval News prior to the release of the City of Laval’s 2022 budget on Dec. 16, Mayor Stéphane Boyer said the average home’s tax bill can be expected to increase no more than 1.9 per cent next year – below the anticipated rate of inflation.
According to Boyer, the new administration is putting together the 2022 budget differently than in past years. As such, the operations segment of the budget will be tabled on Dec. 16, but the triennial capital works budget (PTI) will only be announced in mid-January.
The mayor maintains that delaying the PTI (which includes major infrastructure project expenses for the next three years) will allow municipal officials to meet city councillors, including opposition members, to receive input for priorities from them. The administration believes this will contribute to its goal of creating more transparency.
“In the past there was no consultation – for the budget there was just a presentation to certain people,” said Boyer. “Now in this way there will be a consultation, and we want to make sure there is as much as possible in it from the elected members as possible.”
PTI budget in January
He said the municipal elections in November reduced the time city officials had available to formulate the new budget, obliging them to postpone the PTI to January.
Although the 1.9 per cent general tax hike is an indicator of restraint by the new administration, a $15 per household increase is being introduced on the water tax in order to help pay for improvements to water infrastructure.
Because of a longstanding engineering oversight in Laval’s underground wastewater infrastructure (as well as in many other cities in Quebec), wastewater during heavy rain storms has ended up for years being mixed with sewage before being flushed into the river.
Water infrastructure work
“We’ve been talking about doing something about his for many years and we finally want to do something about it,” said Boyer, noting that part of the city’s solution will be to create up to three underground reservoirs to catch rainwater overflows during major downpours.
As well, the city is imposing a $5 increase on a tax to help the Société de transport de Laval (STL) deal with a deficit at the transit agency caused by a more than 50 per cent drop in ridership during the Covid pandemic. “We have to compensate for this loss,” Boyer said.
Tax freeze not in the cards
While some Laval city council opposition members have lobbied in the past for the city to decree a tax freeze, Boyer said that during the election campaign the Mouvement lavallois never made that promise. “For us, our commitment was never to freeze taxes – it was to not raise them more than inflation, which is a commitment that we respect,” he said, noting that other cities in the province are contemplating tax increases ranging between two and more than three per cent. In the meantime, it is predicted that the overall rate of inflation next year will exceed three per cent.