Cote Saint-Luc appeals agglomeration council budget

COTE SAINT-LUC APPEALS AGGLOMERATION COUNCIL BUDGET; AT LEAST $105 MILLION UNJUSTLY ATTRIBUTED TO AGGLO BUDGET

COTE SAINT-LUC, FEBRUARY 20, 2006
- As is its right under Article 115 of Bill 75, Côte Saint-Luc City Council will be adopting resolutions tonight (8 p.m) at 5801 Cavendish Boulevard to oppose two by-laws related to the recent budget imposed on the Agglomeration Council by the City of Montreal. One of these by-laws, the Règlement sur le partage des dépenses mixtes, contravenes article 69 of Québec's Bill 75, while the other, the Règlement sur les taxes, is imprecise and grants an inordinate discretion to the Montreal administration.

Earlier today detailed studies were released which demonstrated that Agglomeration taxes are at least $105 million above what they should have been. This has led to a tax increase of an average of 14 percent in Cote Saint-Luc's residential sector.

"Our local budget was a responsible one," states Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather. "The vast majority of the unreasonably high residential tax increases experienced by Côte Saint-Luc and most other demerging municipalities were caused by a residential rate charged by the agglomeration which was far too high.

The City of Montreal is trying to charge the agglomeration for many items, which should be in Montreal's local budget. It is also imposing cost sharing formulas, which make us pay far too high a share of agglomeration expenses and arbitrarily assigning unjust tax rates. The Government of Quebec provided us the right to appeal certain matters to the Minister all 15 demerged municipalities are doing exactly that."

Mayor Housefather notes that the municipaliti are asking the Government of Quebec for structural changes to how the agglomeration works. "While Montreal acted unfairly in the preparation and imposition of the agglomeration budget, the Government of Quebec gave them the tools to do so through the laws and decrees they adopted related to the agglomeration," he said. "Now that the Minister can see how Montreal abused the powers which she gave them she needs to act. We need structural change so that we as taxpayers can not be taken advantage of by being made to pay too much for regional services."
 
Mayor Housefather called on concerned citizens to follow the lead of individuals such as Cote Saint-Luc resident Michael Lifshitz and let their voices be heard.
 
Mr. Lifshitz launched an online petition last week which has become a rally cry for all of the demerged municipalities. In seven days, more than 2,000 people have signed on. Paper copies, in French and English, are also available for people to sign at the respective city and town halls. "I would like to personally thank and congratulate Michael Lifshitz for his efforts and encourage all other residents of the 15 municipalities to contact the Premier, Minister of Municipal Affairs and their own MNA," said the mayor.
 
"As a result of the new Montreal budget, Mayor Gérald Tremblay has managed to keep his promise not to increase taxes by shifting that tax burden on to the residents of the demerging municipalities," says Mr. Lifshitz. " Obviously, this is not fair. When the Agglomeration Council was established, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Nathalie Normandeau, promised the demerging Municipalities that if they felt they were not being treated fairly, they could oppose what was adopted by the agglomeration and she would make a fair decision on the issue. It is time to hold her to that promise. It is important that our elected representatives know that this situation is unacceptable and we expect them to fix it. The online petition can be accessed at
http://www.petitiononline.com/ImpotTax/petition.html . This is an updated bilingual version of the original petition which can still be  accessed at http://www.petitiononline.com/DemAgglo/petition.html which has already recorded 2,280 signatures. Mr. Lifshitz reports that the petition has already made its way to Snowbirds in Florida. Those who sign on are being urged to pass it on to as many people living in these municipalities as possible. "As signatures accumulate, I will be writing to all MNAs representing residents in these municipalities, as well as Premier Jean Charest and the Minister of Municipal Affairs to show them the results of the petition," he says. " For those of you who believe there is no point on signing the petition as nothing will change, let me ask you this - what will change if you do nothing?"

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