It may be time for municipalities to return to their basic role: water, sewer, fire, playgrounds and street maintenance.
The mayor forgets the “welcome tax”, which is very profitable for municipalities. What do they do with this tax? Municipalities were used to spending without looking too much (they subsidize artists with our taxes and a bunch of nonsense that is not their responsibility). In Montreal, we have the most councilors in North America and what does the mayor do? Before wanting other powers, start cutting fat. Before I cut baby food, I’m going to cut dining out; before cutting in the purchase of clothes, I will cut the cigarettes and the wine.
We are hearing more and more from municipalities denouncing the fact that they will no longer be able to maintain services to the population without having other sources of funding. These same municipalities offer the best working conditions, according to the Fraser Institute and several other researchers. The gap is even significant compared to the provincial and the federal. Life was good and municipalities were raising taxes rather than effectively managing revenues. They have only themselves to blame and will have to do like Macron: stand up and make tough decisions.
I would like someone to explain to me the logic of paying taxes to the federal government so that part of the money comes back to Quebec and that afterwards, these two levels of government transfer sums to the municipalities. It seems to me that it would be so much simpler if everyone levied taxes according to the needs corresponding to their mandates.
It is impressive that the only option considered by our governments is to increase revenues, that is, to tax us even more. Yet, by already having the biggest tax burden in America, we are already at the limit. It’s time to act like an adult and ask the question no one wants to hear: can we afford all these “increasing responsibilities”? The short answer is quite simple: no. It is time to make choices if we want to bequeath a viable society to our children.
Cities have scattered themselves into all sorts of programs outside of their core services. They wanted to replace government responsibilities. They must return to the basic services that citizens expect and their budgets will be better for it.
I do not understand the obsession of municipalities to say that property tax is an inadequate source of revenue and that they need money from Quebec. Quebec’s money comes from the same pockets, those of the taxpayers, just like the property tax.
Madam Mayor, first municipalities must define their basic mandates and identify those that are not a priority, take stock of their assets to sell them to the private sector and prioritize them. Live within their means and those of their taxpayers who are still paying taxes to the three levels of government.
I am an owner in Longueuil and have not yet digested the 14 million footbridge of Route 132, the investments in the municipal golf course Le Cerf, the Marina and its restaurant as well as the public market, among other projects. Are these priority mandates of a city and, above all, is it self-financing in fixed assets and operations by users or by property taxation? What are these assets worth and how much could they provide as a contingency fund for tougher years or reduce debt and its interest costs? It would be justified for Quebec and Ottawa to finance public transit more in the context of climate objectives, but at the same time, not to make public transit more free for certain clienteles and to make it more efficient with the connection to the REM. Another example: do the bike paths have to be all paved, lined and plowed? On the ground with rock dust, it costs much less and it would be enough most of the time and we would build more.
With inflation, recession, the state of public finances, debts and deficits as well as the financial capacities of your taxpayers, the prioritization exercise is essential for elected municipal officials.