Pontiac council adopts 2020 budget
2.4% tax rate increase expected
MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC – The Pontiac municipal council met on December 18 at the Luskville Community Centre to adopt the 2020 budget. Director General Pierre Said and Finance Director Ginette Chevrier Bottrill attended, as well as 12 members of the public.
The budget was passed by a majority with Councillor Draper-Maxsom in opposition because the MRC portion of the budget increased by 6.5%, but the recent MRC property evaluation didn’t consider decreases in property values and reduced business income due to floods. Evaluations increased by about 5%, except for Quyon.
The tax rate increase will be adopted at the January 21 meeting, and is expected to be 2.4%.
Carl Hager asked what effect the loss of houses due to floods has on the budget. Mayor Joanne Labadie said the municipality lost 29 properties in 2017 and so far 14 from the 2019 flood. The Ministry of Public Security (MSP) doesn’t share information, so the municipality only learns of losses when the owner asks for a demolition permit. Properties acquired by the municipality aren’t taxable. The MSP covers 75% of flood expenses, leaving the municipality with at least $100,000 in extra expenses so far.
Most (86%) of the budget is fixed expenses such as the MRC share (police, etc.), garbage and recycling, collective agreements, and insurance, so savings have to be found in the remaining 14%.
A ratepayer asked about the cost of the repair to Alary Road. Labadie said $345,000 has been received from the MSP, with more to come as invoices are received. The final cost to the municipality is about $100,000.
No information is available yet about repairing the fatal Bronson-Bryant Road washout, but chemin du Lac-la-Pêche near Masham isn’t eligible for a grant.
Mountain Road repairs will be revisited. The initial estimate and borrowing bylaw was for $1.8 million, but recent tenders came in at $4 million.
Denis Dubé asked about the three-year capital expenditures program. Labadie explained some projects listed for 2019 will be done later. She reminded everyone that the program is required by Québec and is a “wish-list”.
Melvin Maxsom asked about the NCC’s contribution in lieu of taxes for Gatineau Park, which makes up 47% of the municipality. The evaluation is up this year, and it’s unknown whether the NCC will contest it as it did in Chelsea last year.
Former mayor Roger Larose asked several questions about where savings have been made, which were answered by Chevrier Bottrill; cuts in administration to balance increases in salaries, Assistant Director General Geneviève Latulippe is acquiring legal qualifications to decrease outside legal costs, and legal actions initiated by the former council have ended, further reducing costs.