All suburban mayors will vote against agglomeration budget

Increase unacceptable to all Montréal Island residents

MONTREAL, Jan. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) of the Island of Montréal, representing 15 Montréal municipalities, denounces the 2010 agglomeration budget, in particular the proposed spending increase and the lack of transparency in the process leading up to the tabling of the agglomeration budget by the City of Montréal.

"The 9.4% increase in spending for the agglomeration budget, which will translate into an overall increase of 12.6% in the suburban municipalities` share, is fiscally irresponsible and unjustifiable especially in the current economic climate," said Peter F. Trent, president of the Association of Suburban Municipalities and Mayor of the City of Westmount. "How can we ask all Montréal Island taxpayers, including those living in the City of Montréal, to shoulder an increase six times the rate of inflation, especially as it is not clearly explained or supported with solid facts or figures," he added.

For example, two new expenses represent more than 80% of the spending increase: $91.9 million for employee pension funds and $62.2 million for increased mass transit spending. From the very onset of the creation of the Commission Ad-hoc du budget 2010, the ASM raised questions regarding these increases and requested clarifications. To date, no clear explanations have been forthcoming.

The Island of Montréal needs a better funded mass transit system. But should the money come exclusively from the pockets of already overburdened Montréal Island residents? Public transportation is one of the best ways to help Québec achieve its greenhouse gas reduction objectives, and the ASM is willing to support Mayor Tremblay in his representations to the Québec government to ensure adequate funding for Montreal Island public transit.

Last December, the mayors of the Association of Suburban Municipalities welcomed the creation of an ad hoc agglomeration budget Commission. They looked forward to an open, transparent, and democratic budget review process, especially in light of Mayor Tremblay's post election commitment to work with all partners, including the ASM mayors.

"We are disappointed," said Mayor Trent. "The budgetary process was fraught with problems and inefficiencies. There were no objectives or guidelines, no transparency or true consultation, to name but a few. The result is an unjustified and unacceptable spending increase."

To improve the planning of future budgets, the ASM has tabled a report with 20 recommendations. The two main recommendations are the creation of a permanent agglomeration budget Commission and the establishment of clear, transparent guidelines for future budget preparation.

Please visit the City of Westmount's website (www.westmount.org) for a copy of the minority report prepared by Mayor Peter F. Trent and Mayor Edgar Rouleau in response to the recommendations tabled by the Commission Ad-hoc du budget 2010 (Volet agglomération).

SOURCE Association of Suburban Municipalities

For further information: For further information: Peter F. Trent, President of the Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) of the Island of Montréal, Mayor of the City of Westmount, (514) 989-5240

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