Laval Budget 2017, property taxes to rise 1.4 per cent

Average homeowner’s bill will be $43 higher next year

Martin C. Barry

Residential property owners in Laval will be paying about 1.4 per cent more in taxes in 2017, according to the city’s latest annual budget which was released to the media on Monday.

While city officials point out that the hike is less than the 2 per cent rate of inflation, it means the average tax bill for a $337,000 house will be $43 higher when the invoice arrives by mail in April. If you paid around $2,774 in taxes in 2016, your bill could be approximately $2,817 in the coming year.


An $825 million budget

The fourth budget put together by Mayor Marc Demers’s administration since he and the Mouvement Lavallois formed the majority on Laval city council in 2013 foresees $825 million in operating expenses in 2017. This compares to $810.5 million in the 2016 budget a year ago.

Laval is allotting $944.5 million for its three-year (2017-2019) public works and infrastructure renewal budget (PTI), in annual instalments of $323.6, $306.2 and $314.7 million per year. According to the city, the amounts are being divided between renewal and rehabilitation of existing facilities and structures (43.9 per cent) and the development of new infrastructures (56.1 per cent).

“This budget and this triennial public works plan represent a fair balance between the development of large planned infrastructures and the growth of communities in various neighbourhoods,” Mayor Marc Demers said.

Balancing big and small

“We are structuring the city with major projects,” he continued. “We are also investing in local neighbourhoods as well as local services. The sustainment of neighbourhood life, as well as security, mobility, sustainable development and culture have a major place in the list of our priorities.”

During a journalists’ question period, Demers was asked whether his administration’s decision to keep the tax increase lower than in previous years was influenced by the fact 2017 is an election year. “Our goal was always to be below inflation,” he responded, while noting that Laval froze property taxes in its first budget. “We have always managed to maintain a balance and this remains our goal.”

Compared to the last PTI budget (2016-2018) of $848 million, the new PTI budget for 2017-2019 is almost $100 million larger. Demers noted that the cost for one of Laval’s biggest expenditures ever, Place Bell, comes to $200 million, which must be factored in. “We had to give ourselves the means to raise our capacity to realize projects,” he said.

Arenas and libraries

The three-year PTI plan includes $140 million for the construction of a bio-methane, composting and eco-centre facility. The city will spend $13.3 million rehabilitating several sports facilities, including the Mike Bossy and Hartland Monahan arenas. Laval says it will also invest in the upgrading of the Multicultural library, the Philipppe Panneton library branch and the construction of a new public library headquarters building.

The city’s contribution to the operating expenses of the Société de Transport de Laval is increasing by $4.7 million to $70.1 million. The city has decided to expand a municipal program providing at-home support for senior citizens. Laval is creating a new police investigation division to deal with sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The city is also adding $800,000 to a fund dedicated to social housing.

In terms of municipal administration, the city is pursuing a policy to have more legal services provided from within its own bureaucracy, rather than by outsourced legal firms. (This became a key issue during the former Vaillancourt’s time when the city’s legal division was much smaller and legal work was contracted out to a firm of lawyers which kept offices in a building right across the street from Laval city hall.)

Sablon leasing changes

In the new budget, the city also announced changes in the way it administers leases with organizations and community groups which use municipal buildings such as the Centre du Sablon, the Cosmodôme and the Place des Aînés.

According to Sylvain Gouin, a finance department official, the previous arrangement between the city and the groups established leases with a symbolic value of $1, which did not reflect the actual worth of the facilities, he said.

“We decided to make leases with these three organizations based on the actual market value of the facilities,” he added, while maintaining that the new arrangement will give a clearer idea of what each organization receives in subsidies from the city. The new arrangement won’t change anything in actual costs for the organizations, he insisted.