MONTREAL, Jan. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The 2010 Ville de Montréal Budget that was tabled this morning by Mayor Gérald Tremblay and the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee, Alan DeSousa, stands at $4.3 billion, an increase of 5.6% over last year's budget. Through its rigorous and prudent management process, the Administration has managed to strike a balance between the severe impact of 2009's international economic crisis, the need to promote public transit and ongoing investments in sectors of activity that are essential to the city's development.
The 2010 Montréal Budget includes the first general tax burden increase in nine years. The general tax burden for residential properties will rise an average of 5.3% and for non-residential properties, an average of 6.0%. Overall, two thirds of the tax increases are due to the economic crisis.
The international economic crisis has placed great pressure on public finances and Montréal is no exception to this rule. For example, in the case of the 2010 pension plan, the city must pay out an additional $90 million to offset poor performance of the financial markets. This crisis also had an adverse impact on the city's investment income.
"We are tabling a fiscally responsible budget that responds to the current economic situation, while continuing to target improved services to residents, particularly with respect to public transit. Our Administration has made an unequivocal commitment to public transit and active transportation and that is why we will set aside a record amount of $450 million to public transit in 2010-up 16.7% from 2009," added Mayor Tremblay.
Investing unprecedented amounts in public transit and active
Despite a more difficult financial situation, the city will inject an additional $62.2 million into public transit, to support improved service and to help curb greenhouse gases. Of this amount, $57.6 million will be paid to the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). This contribution to the STM, which will total $389.6 million in 2010, is up 17.6% from last year. The funding will largely be applied to upgrading the public transit system and to enhancing the range of services offered, in view of boosting subway and bus ridership by 8%. In 2008 alone, for example, ridership grew by 4%. Furthermore, the vast task of replacing the subway fleet is to begin and must be financed.
In 2010, the city will also contribute $44.1 million (up 11.4% from 2009) to the Agence métropolitaine de transport, to fund commuter train service and the AMT's Fonds d'immobilisation métropolitain.
The city has also decided to apply its new powers by introducing a tax on non-residential parking lots. This action will bring in estimated revenues of $20 million that will be exclusively earmarked for public transit. This new tax will pertain to the indoor and outdoor parking lots of non-residential properties in downtown Montréal.
The BIXI self-service bike system, which enabled users to make more than one million trips during its first year of operation, will continue to expand in 2010. Another 60 km will also be added to the city's bike path network in 2010.
2.4% more local services
The budget has set aside $914.4 million to fund local services in the 19 boroughs, up 1.1% from 2009. An amount of $12 million has also been earmarked for upgrading local services. These amounts will help boost borough allowances by 1.1 % to 2.4%. The allocation of additional amounts will be considered based on criteria that will soon be set out by the Administration.
"We will continue to invest in local services that will help improve living conditions for Montréal residents," said Mr. DeSousa.
Quality of life and economic development
To ensure that housing can accommodate a diverse demand, to attract and respond to family needs and to maintain the 15 000 logements program, the Administration has earmarked $54 million for new home ownership programs, social and community housing and other residential grant programs. To attract and maintain families, home builders will be encouraged to include units of three or more bedrooms in their projects.
Above and beyond its agreement with the Government of Québec, the city will set aside $8 million (or $1 million more than last year) in 2010 to anti-poverty initiatives and to programs aimed at eliminating social exclusion.
The City has earmarked $172 million in 2010 (3.3% more than in 2009) to ensure that it maintains its inspirational leadership in culture (including libraries, museums and community centres). The city's contribution to the Conseil des arts de Montréal will climb 4.8%, to $10.9 million.
The City Administration has always envisioned Montréal as an active city, as well as a pioneer in sustainable development. Beginning in 2010, funding of $36 million will be set aside over three years for the protection, acquisition, development and maintenance of natural environments. The city will also allocate $21 million to the beautification and improvement of its large and local parks. So that Montréal can build on its status as a wired city, it will also invest $1 million to install WiFi hotspots providing free public Internet access in municipal parks.
As well, $10 million will be earmarked for new strategic activities aimed at boosting private and public investment under the Imagine - Building Montréal 2025 development strategy. The PR@M-Commerce, PR@M-Revitalization and PR@M-Industry programs will be maintained to support commercial and industrial development. Steps are also being taking to eventually create a PR@M-Decontamination program, addressing that particular need.
Finally, as part of the initiative designed to improve the contract awarding process as well as the management of public contracts and projects, Montréal will reinforce the expertise necessary to control ongoing operations in all fields requiring municipal action.The city therefore plans to integrate, over the course of the year, new resources that will allow it to increase as well as maintain its own internal expertise in different fields of activity, notably in areas pertaining to project management, urban planning, engineering, purchasing, legal affairs and finances. For these purposes, the city has set aside a budget totalling $10 million.
SOURCE Ville de Montréal - Cabinet du maire et du comité exécutif
For further information: For further information: Patricia Lowe, Media Relations, (514) 872-5467; Source: Darren Becker, Office of the Mayor and the Executive Committee, (514) 872-6412