Why we pay too much in Agglomeration taxes and possible solutions

Every year when you get your annual property tax bill there are two parts: your local tax and the Agglomeration tax. The former pays for local services and in 2020 it will again increase by less than inflation. This will be the 13th year in a row. However, we have no control over the Agglomeration part and with the evaluation of the average Hampstead single family home up 24%, the expected Agglomeration tax increase is 9,6%.


The only short-term solution is to have no local tax increase and thus reduce your overall tax bill. The problem is that this is unsustainable. Without even minimal local tax increases, our services and infrastructure will soon start to go downhill. However, if I know that significant new local tax revenue is coming in a few years, I can and will recommend to council a zero percent local tax increase for 2020. That is why all of you who are eligible to vote in the referendum on the 10-story apartment building on CSL Road Sunday, November 24 should come out and vote YES. Around the time you get this Mayor’s message, you will be getting a separate message from me with many additional reasons to vote YES.

A brief history of the Agglomeration


When we demerged from Montreal in 2006, we got our town back and control of all local services. However, central services (police, fire, public transit, water, etc.) were given to the island-wide Agglomeration. In theory it could have worked but Montreal took advantage of us. For example, we had only 2% of our arterial roads paved even though we paid 20% of the costs. Further, we had absolutely no control of Agglomeration decisions.


At the first meeting of the demerged suburbs I argued for a boycott of this unfair structure. In May Maria Tutino and I started the boycott and by December all the suburban Mayors had joined us. Negotiations with Montreal and Quebec began immediately and 18 months later we got a vastly improved deal. There was also a promise to work on the remaining issues but little has been accomplished since then.


Our Agglomeration taxes are based solely on property values which is not very fair. For many of the services, charging based on usage would be much fairer. Here are some examples. Water charges, including the cost of sewers and watermains should be based on consumption. Police and fire services should be based on population. Public transit should be charged based on the number of rides taken on our territory. Waste removal should be charged based on the tons collected. This would result in encouraging people to use less water, take public transit and produce less garbage. All of this would be good for the environment.

 

The suburban Mayors are trying to get the Quebec government to make the above changes but it will take time. In the short term there is only one thing you can do to help us have lower taxes.
If you are in the zone where you are eligible to vote Sunday, Nov. 24. Please come out and vote Yes in favor of the 10-story apartment building on CSL Road.

 

If you have any comments or questions on this topic or anything 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