The municipal budget:
Setting high expectations for the business community
Montreal, November 28, 2002 - The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal fully supported Bill 170 and the municipal mergers of the Island of Montreal. The Board of Trade also implicitly understood the need to reach more uniformity in the way all Montrealers contribute to the city's finances. For this reason, the Board of Trade appreciates the efforts made towards this objective by Mayor Gérald Tremblay and the President of the Executive Committee, Frank Zampino, in developing the budget for the second year of the new City of Montreal.
"The integration of the taxation system across the entire City of Montreal is requisite to sound and fair management of municipal affairs," stated Benoit Labonté, President of the Board of Trade. "During the initial year following the merger, with the integration of unions and the initial steps to bring all taxpayers towards a common target with respect to land taxes, the implementation of a common business tax collection system was to a certain extent a natural step."
Given the decisions made by the municipal administration, the Board of Trade believes it essential to make citizens aware of the considerable demands this budget makes on many of its members and on the business community. The replacement of the business tax with a surtax on non-residential properties is not new in the metropolitan region only ten former municipalities on the Island of Montreal continued to collect the business tax (including Montreal). Nevertheless, its replacement will require that significant adjustments be made, both for tenants and property owners, with the latter also having to take on the added responsibility of collecting the tax.
"The support programs implemented by the City, which we feel are promising and overall better thought out than the surtax rebate policy introduced by Montreal in 1992, are necessary and address some very real needs," continued Mr. Labonté. "Moreover, the Board of Trade urges the City to commit to maintaining these programs for at least three years in order to allow for a sufficient adjustment period. Without question, we will closely monitor the impact on the business community and will not hesitate to approach the City for assistance if it becomes necessary.
"Overall, it is clear to us that the budget reflects the limits imposed on the City of Montreal by its extreme dependence on land-based revenues," concluded Mr. Labonté. "In our opinion, the City must arrange to have some breathing space in managing its finances. This is a key issue and one that the Board of Trade will raise with the provincial and federal governments as part of the pre-budget recommendations it is preparing to make public."
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has more than 7 000 members. Its mission is to be the leading group representing the interests of the Greater Montreal business community. The objectives are to maintain, at all times, relevance to its membership, credibility towards the media and influence towards government and decision-makers.
Isabelle Hudon, director, Communications
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, ext. 4010