A Very Important Referendum

2014-11-27

To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what your town can do for you, ask what you can do for your town.” In the referendum on December 7 or in the advance poll on Nov. 30, some Hampstead residents will have the opportunity of giving the Town $250,000 tax revenue each and every year, forever. And it won’t cost them a penny. If you live on Dufferin or MacDonald, whether you are a renter or owner, all you have to do is come out and vote YES.

Background

In 2011, the developers of the fire station property got the necessary zoning to build a 16 story high rise. Unfortunately, the PQ was elected and sales were not sufficient to proceed. Now the developers have a new proposal calling for a lower high rise of 7-11 stories on half the lot, combined with townhouses on the other half. One would think that the opponents of the original project would have been happy with this new proposal, but they were not, and enough came out to sign a register. The result is that we have to hold a referendum and unless a majority take the time to vote YES, we will not get substantial new tax revenue.

How much local tax revenue?

The annual local tax from this project is the equivalent of 35-55 new single family homes or $200,000 to $300,000 each and every year. The exact amount depends on how many stories are finally built and that will be determined by market demand. I will assume $250,000 or 2.5% of our local tax revenue.

In addition, there will be one time Welcome Tax revenue of an additional $260,000 (2.6% of our local tax revenue, assuming 9 stories) and more Welcome tax in the future whenever a condo is sold to a new buyer. Then there will be a one time extra $550,000 Park Tax (5.5% of our local tax revenue).

In total, the various amounts add up to over $1 million or 10.6% of our local tax revenue. This is the equivalent of all the local tax increases over the past seven years. The revenue is so significant that I and all the councillors will be going all out to try to get the maximum YES vote. It is crucial that every eligible voter come out and vote YES.

What will the money be used for?

There is no shortage of needs. We may have the best infrastructure on the island, but it still needs additional work. More roads need to be repaved, sidewalks need to be redone, our water mains need more work, our street light network needs new wiring and some new lamp posts, some parks need new playground equipment and beautification. Money may also be used for better events and sports programs for our children. Having more taxpayers will help us continue to keep our local tax rate increases below inflation while increasing services and work on our infrastructure.

What about the Agglomeration tax?

The money that I have been talking about is strictly for use locally. The new taxpayers will also pay their share of our annual Agglomeration tax bill which spreads that burden over a bigger tax base.

What about the downsides to the new project?

Absolutely none! Extra traffic will be minimal. There is ample underground parking in the project and street parking for visitors. There will be no impact on our underground infrastructure as the hook ups will be to Montreal sewers and water mains on MacDonald. In fact, the extra 200 or so new residents will mean more pool and tennis members and thus smaller annual losses at those facilities. The facilities are currently under utilized 95% of the time.

If you have any comments or questions on this topic or anything else related to Hampstead, please e-mail me at wsteinberg@hampstead.qc.ca or call me 7 days a week until midnight at my home office (514) 483-6954.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead