Saint-Lambert’s 2022 Budget: an exercise in agility and courage for the new council
On December 6, the mayor of Saint-Lambert, Pascale Mongrain, presented the 2022 budget for the City of Saint-Lambert. This budget, which is set at $61,533,289, includes all general property taxes that cover services offered by Saint-Lambert, the Agglomeration of Longueuil, and the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM).
Through rigorous management of local expenditures, the increase in the portion of the tax bill for local services is limited to 4.36%, i.e. below the rate of inflation. The share (portion) for the Agglomération de Longueuil, however, increases by 11.35%, and Saint-Lambert has no control over this. The overall tax rate therefore stands at 7.9% for the average house in 2022.
For residences, this translates to a tax rate of $0.8397 for every $100 of valuation, compared to $1.0021 in 2021. The average tax bill for a single-family residence evaluated at $823,292 and whose value is stable will therefore increase by $506 for the year 2022.
“In our opinion, we cannot tax our citizens above the inflation rate. When studying the budget, we immediately saw the constraints facing us. In fact, 85% of our budget consists of non-reducible expenditures for which the increases are imposed on us: the wage bill governed by collective agreements, contractual commitments and the shares paid to the Agglomération de Longueuil and the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. This leaves us with only 15% leeway to balance our budget. We therefore worked on this small percentage and had to make difficult decisions,” specified the mayor.
Critical budget issue
A major budget issue for the mayor is how the Agglomeration share is calculated.
“For the sake of transparency, I must tell you that Saint-Lambert is in a difficult budget situation, mainly because of the Agglomeration’s cost-sharing formula. Because here in Saint-Lambert , we have no industrial park, which is disadvantageous for us. The average home value is also much higher than in the rest of the Agglomeration, which further penalizes us. This means that in 2022, more than half of your taxes will go directly to the Agglomération, without us having any real control over them,” continued Mme Mongrain.
The 2022 budget proposes the following:
- maintaining free access to sports facilities for organizations offering services to young people;
- maintaining free access to public transit for low-income seniors by offering monthly “Accès 65 Hors Pointe” transit passes;
- a pilot project of snow removal alerts to allow for some overnight street parking;
- increasing investments in tree planting by $100,000, to be funded by the increase in fees charged for filling residential pools;
- increasing the library’s opening hours, through a budget allocation of $50,000; and
- opening the arena during the summer, which will generate an estimated $23,000 in additional net revenues.
Changes to current activities are also included:
- City Council will re-examine the budgetary envelope for grants to organizations and partners in order to take into account their mission, number of users and financial situation. The sponsorship grant agreement with the Corporation for the Economic Development of Saint-Lambert will therefore not be renewed beyond December 31, 2021.
- For both environmental and economic reasons, there will no longer be a print edition of the Leisure à la carte program. In addition, the municipal magazine Vivre Saint-Lambert will become a seasonal publication, going from 6 to 4 issues annually.
Controlling the debt is the main challenge faced by City Council in terms of the budget, particularly as major investments are essential if we are to continue remedying the cumulative deficit in our municipal infrastructure maintenance in order to ensure ongoing quality of life and security for citizens.
“Many of our infrastructures are not simply aging; they’re finished! Our city has a cumulative gross debt of $100M (net debt of $75M). To those who suggest we should borrow more, we say that such a strategy would mean higher taxes for our citizens, given the interest and capital repayments that must be made in the coming years. We will have to take this into account in choosing future projects,” explained Mme Mongrain.
Acknowledgements and conclusion
“I wish to thank our city’s directors and employees for their expertise and support in the preparation of the new council’s first budget. Their contribution was essential. This budget will key in determining what happens next, and I am confident that we will find innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of our city and community,” concluded the mayor.
For more details on the budget, see the Budget page.