Mobility, economy and housing as a priority in Montreal

Photo: Jacques Plante, The Duty
Valérie Plante met with enthusiastic employees of the Société de transport de Montréal at the Centre of transport Stinson, where she announced, Tuesday, the launch of the call for tenders for the purchase of 300 hybrid buses additional in 2020.

The administration of mayor Valerie Plant will introduce Wednesday his first budget. It will be focused on the mobility, economic development and housing, but the culture and recreation will not be left out because their funding will be increased to almost 10 million next year, has learned The Duty.

 

The City will increase to 2.5 million of its contribution to the Conseil des arts de Montréal in 2018.

 

When the chairman of the executive committee, Benoit Dorais, had attacked the budget is drawn up in the aftermath of the November 5 elections, it was found that there was a shortfall of $ 358 million in the budget projections for 2018.

 

This budget variance was due to the higher cost than expected retirement plans. The opposition was, however, mocked the outrage of projet Montréal in the face of this “hole” in the budget. As the gap took account of the budget requests of all the services, it is up to the administration in place, whatever it may be, to take decisions in function of its priorities, had argued the leader of the opposition, Lionel Perez.

 

The first budget Plant-Dorais should thus set the tone for the next few years.

 

Tax hike

 

As had his predecessor, Denis Coderre, Valerie Plant has promised that the tax increases of Montrealers would be no more than the rate of inflation. For 2018, the Conference Board of Canada forecasts an inflation rate of 2.1% in the greater Montreal area.

 

In the last budget of the City, from the year 2017, the average increases in taxes for the residential sector were 1.7 % and those imposed on the non-residential sector had been limited to 0.9 %.

 

The budget will continue to he an upward trend ? In 2017, it was $ 5.2 billion, a 2.8% increase compared to the previous year.

 

Over the years, the share of remuneration in operating expenditure of the City, however, has fallen from 51.2% in the budget in 2014 to 44.2% in 2017.

 

Transport

 

Valerie Plant was elected as the ” mayor of the mobility “. Accompanied by the minister of Transport, André Fortin, and the minister of municipal Affairs, Martin Coiteux, the mayor has just announced on Tuesday the launch of the call for tenders for the purchase of 300 hybrid buses additional to 2020, one of its promises headlights.

 

The acquisition cost of the bus has not been revealed, but in an electoral campaign, projet Montréal had estimated the expense at about $ 225 million. The largest share of the bill, however, should be assumed by Québec.

 

This project, which will be in 2107 the number of buses the STM, will result in additional costs for the STM, which will need to hire 600 drivers additional maintenance personnel required.

 

The chairman of the board of directors of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), Philippe Schnobb, acknowledged Tuesday that the operating budget of his company would increase to 75 million per year starting in 2020.

 

The announcement of these 300 buses will not affect the budget for 2018 the City of Montréal, which will be presented on Wednesday. Remains to be seen if the contribution of the City to the STM will be increased. It had been to 455,6 million in 2017.

 

Another promise major campaign of projet Montréal has been the launch of the project pink line of the metro. The annual cost of the establishment of the office of project and studies had been estimated to be 1.2 million in the election platform of the party.

 

Culture

 

In the field of culture, Valerie Plant had promised to increase to 20 million in the budget of the Conseil des arts de Montréal, and she said also want to protect the artists ‘ studios, places of creation.

 

According to information obtained by Le Devoir, the budget devoted to leisure and culture is expected to climb from $ 9.8 million in 2018, an increase attributable in large part to the activities in the districts.

 

This amount includes an increase of $ 2.5 million from the contribution of the City to the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Remember that in 2017, Montreal had contributed $ 14.5 million to the arts Council, is $ 500,000 more in 2016.

 

For its part, the musée Pointe-à-Callières, the city of archaeology and history of Montreal will receive 745 000 $ more than in 2017, for a contribution of $ 8.1 million from the City.

 

Behind the scenes, it was indicated that in terms of culture, this budget does not allow to realize all the wishes of the administration : “This is a budget of transition, but it gives a signal about our intentions for the subsequent years. “

 

Inspections

 

In terms of housing, the administration has already made it known that the City would spend a million more in his brigade of inspectors in food safety in order to bring to 30 the number of employees dedicated to this task.

 

However, it is unknown if Valérie Complaint will go forward with its promise to create a “squad building” is responsible for making surprise visits on the construction sites and ensure the quality of the work. The cost of this measure has been estimated at $ 3 million per year.

 

Taxation

 

Another item to watch for : projet Montréal had proposed several tax measures, including the reimbursement of transfer taxes (” welcome tax “) to families with at least one child and who are purchasing a property in Montreal. According to forecasts, this measure could cost $ 19.8 million per year to the City.

 

Valérie Plante has also mentioned that she had to develop a system of credit fees as compensation to the traders whose turnover is affected by construction projects.

 

The budget will be submitted to the city council on Wednesday afternoon and will subsequently be the subject of a study by the finance Committee. It will be adopted by the end of the month of January.

A metropolitan area whose economic health is improving

The administration has changed, but the budget tabled Wednesday by the City of Montreal will probably be in line with what has been done for the past few years in terms of management of the taxation, according to the rating agency toronto-based DBRS.

“What has changed the most, is that the economy has continued to improve over the course of the last year, a positive point, and the unemployment rate [6.1% in the greater metropolitan area] is relatively low compared to its historical average,” said Tuesday, Scott Cherry, senior credit analyst of the city of Montreal to the agency DBRS. That said, according to Mr. Cherry, these factors are not sufficient to cause a change in the credit rating of the city. It is located at ” A (high) “, at the same level as that of the government of Quebec. Any rating change can have a significant impact on the borrowing costs, because investors demand more yield.

In another agency, Standard Poor’s, the rating Montreal is located at AA-, one notch above the government of Quebec. When S P has raised the rating by 2015, she mentioned several factors, including the level of liquidity is “exceptional” and a ” more stable political environment “.

Most of the loans made by Montreal on the bond market have a maturity of less than 10 years. Long-term debt of the municipal administration amounted to approximately 8.3 billion at December 31, 2016. The interest charges for this year were set at $ 330 million.

The weight of the debt of Montreal is higher than that of other large canadian cities, but “it’s manageable,” says Scott Cherry. The main issue remains the management of the investment program in infrastructure, ” whether it be water pipes or transport “. The three-year programme announced by the ex-mayor Denis Coderre in November 2016 were based on investment of 6.4 billion from 2017 to 2019.

François Desjardins

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