In response to the tabling of the 2020 urban agglomeration budget tabled by Montreal’s municipal Administration earlier this week, the mayors of the related cities of the agglomeration have expressed their reservations and ask to review the ways of doing things.
If Montreal won’t budge on agglo process we expect Quebec to intervene, Mayor Beny Masella
One of the problem lies essentially in the method of calculation, which establishes quotas between all the cities of the agglomeration of Montreal. For several months now, the Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) has made attempts to discuss a fair and equitable solution with representatives of the City of Montreal. Given the limited nature of the framework of rules to establish the fiscal potential, the ASM asked the City of Montreal to reconsider its position and to incorporate new indicators that would allow a closer link between the services provided and the people who receive them.
These steps have failed. The ASM also tried to convince the Quebec government to intervene in the matter and to accompany Montreal and the suburbs to open discussions and agree on a suitable and fair agreement.
“From our point of view, the amounts paid in shares by the citizens of the related cities of the agglomeration are, in a very large proportion, significantly higher than those of Montreal for agglomeration services,” stated Beny Masella, president of the Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) and Mayor of Montreal West. “We, therefore, ask the City of Montreal to review its position and broaden the scope of discussions in order to find a method of calculation that is fair, equitable and acceptable to all. Otherwise, we are asking the Quebec government to appoint an independent mediator to resolve this impasse.”
A process that excludes related cities
The 15 mayors are sending a clear message to the municipal Administration to recall that the current budget process that deliberately excludes the cities concerned from the approach is outdated and does not allow to ensure a fair calculation and equitable shares for the distribution of agglomeration expenditures. According to a recent statement, for the mayors representing the Association of Suburban Municipalities, the agglomeration budget does not include the principle of equity that should guide the City of Montreal in the coming years.
“The mayors are disappointed to see that, despite the promises to improve the active involvement of related municipalities in each step of the Montréal agglomeration’s budget process, we are once again this year being placed in front of a budget tied up in advance, with no real possibility of improvement, “continued Beny Masella. “Moreover, considering that the budget tabled by the City of Montreal has a direct impact on all of the approximately 250,000 citizens of related cities, it is essential to review the current formula establishing the distribution of the bill of agglomeration services that related cities must pay. This outdated and inequitable formula is no longer acceptable and needs to be reviewed and improved before the next budget year, “he concluded.
Nearly fifteen years after the promulgation of the law governing the governance framework for agglomerations in Quebec, the ASM believes that it is time for the Québec government to review this governance framework as a whole.
The tabling of the agglomeration budget once again demonstrates the limits of the distribution of the bill of agglomeration expenditures on the principle of property value. The filing of the last assessment roll last September accentuated the increase or decrease in the amount each municipality must pay for agglomeration services without there being a significant change in the service offered on their territory.
In spite of this fundamental dispute, the AMB nevertheless wishes to underline the overall effort of the Administration to contain the average growth of the quotas of all the cities in 2020. Overall, the share of the agglomeration is in -1.99% decrease compared to the amount paid in 2019. For the related cities of the ASM, this average decrease will be -0.59% during this period.
This generally favourable result for the year 2020, however, does not make it possible to settle the inequities in the distribution of the costs of agglomeration services. Suffice it to say that the agglomeration budget adopted in 2018 saw an average real growth of 5.20% of the shares of the related cities, well above inflation.
Over the next few days, ASM representatives on the Finance and Administration Committee (CFA) will conduct a rigorous analysis of each of the services in the Montréal agglomeration.