Montreal posts $139M surplus ahead of municipal election

Montreal posts $139M surplus ahead of municipal election

The City of Montreal has announced a surplus of $139.1 million in its $5-billion budget for 2016 — making this the third year in a row that the Coderre administration has posted a surplus.

The city is attributing the surplus to a $40-million increase in revenues and a better control of expenses which resulted in $69-million in savings.

More than $58 million of the total surplus came from the city's 19 boroughs and another $106 million from the city's centralized services.

The agglomeration council posted a deficit of $26.3 million, which the city said came as a result of renegotiating a long-term contract to extract gas from the former landfill site that is now the Saint-Michel environmental complex. 

Pierre Desrochers, who chairs Montreal's executive council and is responsible for finance, boasted about the city's financial health.

"We're satisfied," Desrochers said of the financial report. "I think we can all say that these results are positive."

3rd year of surpluses

This marks the third consecutive year that Mayor Denis Coderre's administration has posted a modest surplus.

Last year, Montreal posted a consolidated surplus of $145.8 million for 2015.

The news comes as municipal parties start to plan their campaigns for November's election.

With many home and business owners facing property tax increases in 2017, Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante said Wednesday the stress on taxpayers is mounting. 

She said Montreal's so-called "welcome tax" — the land-transfer tax on all property purchases — may be discouraging people from buying in the city.

"It puts pressure on buyers, including young families," Plante said.

'Welcome tax' among growing revenue sources

The city offered this breakdown of $104.3 million in revenues:

- $13.6 million from growth in non-residential property assessment and the value for certain new properties.

- $43.6 million from rights on real estate transfers and the active real estate market, including "welcome taxes."

- $9.2 million from an increase of licensing revenues and permits (building permits and modifications, in particular).

- $29.3 million from the use of accumulated surpluses for certain projects.

- $22.5 million from debt financing of certain contributions: 

- $8.5 million from increased interest income. 

- $18.8 million decrease in tickets for infractions, due to fewer tickets being issued by police officers and parking agents.

- $10.5 million decrease in revenues related to judicial proceedings