Montréal's 2010 budget - A risky bet
Montréal, January 13, 2010 - The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is concerned about the 2010 budget, which highlights the City's major financial weaknesses and calls for significantly increasing the tax burden of businesses and taxpayers at a time when the Montréal economy remains very fragile.
"We understand that Montréal has been affected by the global recession and that the property tax freeze of the past few years is hindering its development. However, municipal expenses are increasing at a worrisome rate. We simply don't understand the increase of $227 million or 5.6% over 2009. Montréal would do well to emulate the efforts of businesses to boost their productivity. The budget should focus more on tightly controlling operating expenses and improving the productivity of municipal services," stated Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
The City is right to concentrate on improving transportation infrastructures, particularly public transit. "The business community and Montrealers will benefit from the cost savings generated by less traffic and better commuter services. But that's provided Montrealers still have a job to go to. By hitting businesses with a hefty property tax increase, not to mention a new tax on non-residential parking lots, the City is weakening businesses at a time when many are struggling to survive. As last week's employment figures show, 35,300 jobs were lost on the Island of Montréal in 2009 whereas 33,400 were created elsewhere in the metropolitan region," added Mr. Leblanc.
On the investment front, the Board of Trade is pleased to see that the City is prioritizing certain large structuring projects, particularly the continuation of the Quartier des spectacles project and the development of a rail link between downtown and Montréal-Trudeau Airport. There are several projects that would boost the City's property tax revenues down the road, for instance, the revitalization of the Outremont Yard and the redevelopment around the Bonaventure Expressway.
The Board of Trade acknowledges the relevance of using the new taxation powers provided under Bill 22. Still, it is important to use them wisely and to understand that they cannot be used as the sole means of financing the City's future growth. "This budget clearly illustrates the need to convince the other levels of government to grant Montréal other sources of revenue commensurate with the City's economic impact," concluded Michel Leblanc.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montréal and to provide individuals, merchants, and local businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec's leading private economic development organization.
Coordinator, Media relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514 871-4000, ext. 4015