The mayor of Saint-Lambert compelled to vote against the Longueuil Agglomeration’s 2022 budget
In accordance with the position adopted by City Council at the special meeting held on December 20, Saint-Lambert Mayor Pascale Mongrain was compelled to express her dissent with respect to the adoption of the Ville de Longueuil’s 2022 budget as relates to its Agglomeration powers as well as the approval of the contributory shares it establishes at the special meeting of the Longueuil Agglomeration Council held today.
In a letter sent to Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier, Mayor Pascale Mongrain explained the reasons as follows:
- The Agglomeration’s calculation formula discriminates against Saint-Lambert in that it does not take into account the virtual absence of any industrial and commercial tax base in our city. Saint-Lambert does not have and has never had an industrial park. The formula as defined includes a section that benefits the other cities in the Agglomeration, all of which have a significant proportion of industrial and commercial properties within their territory;
- The calculation formula is based on our city’s property values. These values have no rational relationship to the services provided by the Agglomeration under its powers;
- There is a frankly troubling conflation between the central city of Longueuil and the Agglomeration of Longueuil. According to the administration Longueuil, the Agglomeration has no legal existence, resulting in the affairs of the central city and the affairs of the Agglomeration being inextricably linked together;
- The annual bill for Saint-Lambert’s share from the central city is not substantiated by any data on the services Saint-Lambert actually uses or on the costs of these services to the central city. This is a lack of transparency that flies in the face of good practice and modern governance;
- In light of the aforementioned, Longueuil’s objectivity with respect to property valuation, particularly in the context of a skyrocketing residential real estate market that penalizes our city in relation to other cities in the Agglomeration, is questionable;
- Over the past five years, spending by the Longueuil Agglomeration has increased by 19%, while spending in Saint-Lambert has increased by 9%; and
- While Saint-Lambert’s relative contributory share has steadily increased year after year since 2007, in 2022, 51% of all property taxes collected by Saint-Lambert from its citizens will be payable to the Agglomeration. This threshold has become unreasonable and beyond comprehension. Over the years, Saint-Lambert has had to reduce local expenditures to meet the spending increases imposed by the Agglomeration, effectively eliminating any breathing room for the city.
The mayor of Saint-Lambert is deeply dismayed by this situation. “The viability of our city is threatened in the short term by the burden imposed by the Agglomeration: our services to the population are at a minimum, our capacity to tax is at a maximum, and the option of borrowing more would be irresponsible for our city’s future,” she explained.
In conclusion, she has asked the mayor of Longueuil to produce, by January 31, 2022, details of the cost of each of the Agglomeration services provided to Saint-Lambert in 2020, and to hold a follow-up meeting in January 2022 to identify solutions to reduce the tax burden on Saint-Lambert.