Gatineau, December 9, 2014. – The theme for Gatineau's 2015 budget, which was adopted today by its Municipal Council, is A Budget of Decisions.
"This budget is based on a common program, a common vision. Our priorities are clear. Thanks to this budget, we are setting the stage for the future by attempting to generate wealth by investing in our libraries, in our employment nodes, in our downtown, and in our neighbourhoods. Thanks to this budget we will continue to be one of the most active cities in Quebec when it comes to the enormous catch-up challenge we face with our infrastructures," indicated Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.
Keeping Spending Under Control
The $546,631,000 balanced budget for 2015 represents $20.7 million more than in 2014.
The work done by the Commission de révision des dépenses et des services for 2013 and 2014 enabled Gatineau to achieve recurrent savings in the order of $6.3 million. In reassessing some of our practices, the organization was able to cut an additional $3.4 million.
This same commitment to keeping our spending under control led us to take the reins in the battle against collusion. In this regard, a number of measures were introduced in 2014 to lower the prices paid by public institutions and to open markets in order to stimulate competition.
All indicators lead us to believe that Gatineau's debt is sound. The estimate of $575.5 million for 2014 should be $5 million lower in 2015. Debt servicing charges are only 12% of our 2015 expenditures, compared to 23% at the time of the merger.
"In 2015, we will continue to revise our approaches in order to make them even more efficient. We will revise our fees, we will revise our committee and commission structures, and we will look more carefully at the situation in our arenas," added Mr. Pedneaud-Jobin.
In 2015, property taxes will represent just over 86% of Gatineau's revenues. The remainder will come from fees for services (3.4%), transfer fees (2.9%), subsidies (2.6%), fines (2.2%) and other sources (2.8%).
In order to diversify its revenues, Gatineau introduced growth fees, and it will continue to demand that revenues associated with an increase in the QST be redistributed to the cities. Additional diversification measures will be proposed in 2015.
The municipal tax increase for 2015 has two components:
- a 1.9% tax, equivalent to the target Bank of Canada consumer price index (CPI) to avoid too great a gap between taxes from one year to the next; and
- a 1% tax entirely earmarked for infrastructures
This 2.9% tax increase represents $70 for a median residential tax account (on a property assessed at $237,700).
Infrastructure Investments: A Record Year
Investments in infrastructure maintenance in 2015 will come to $171 million.
Since 2005, 100% of new revenues in Gatineau have been earmarked for infrastructures.
The 1% dedicated tax will have helped stop the deterioration in our infrastructures, and, ultimately, to limit our expenses. Since it was established in 2012, Gatineau has been able to invest $20.8 million in its infrastructures, and another $15.2 million will be added in 2015.
Moreover, adopting a policy that supports a temporary debt increase enabled us to take part in subsidy programs that can help us catch up.
The following are the main investments planned for 2015 to keep our infrastructures in good working order:
- road repairs: $33 million
- water supply and sewer system repairs: $51 million
- municipal buildings: $6 million
- radio communications: $17 million
- plants and pumping stations: $32 million
- housing: a minimum of $3 million
- renewal of our fleet of vehicles and equipment: $7.2 million ($22.7 million over four years)
- computer services: $4.3 million ($21.5 million over five years)
- $3 million to redesign our facilities next to the new $75 million Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) garage
An Investment Plan with a Better Overview
All investments, such as the three-year capital plan (PTI), which is now the infrastructure maintenance plan, and development projects, have been grouped under a single heading, the investment plan.
This way, projects aimed at infrastructure maintenance will be assessed every year based on real needs and strategic choices, not by sector or electoral district.
The maintenance of existing infrastructures will continue to be allocated 85% of the investment plan, and 15% will go to development projects aimed at improving the quality of life and wealth creation.
Thus, for the next four years, the Municipal Council chose to place the priority on projects representing $67 million out of a long list adding up to $407 million.
- Development of the downtown:
$32 million will be earmarked to double annual municipal investments in the downtown, with the priority on the development of the ruisseau de la Brasserie and rue Aubry/Laval areas;
the intervention plan, developed in partnership with stakeholders in the downtown, will extend over ten years; and
the subsidy aimed at promoting residential construction will be extended until 4,000 new dwellings have been built: 532 have already been built since the program was introduced six years ago.
- Improvement of the library network:
$21.9 million will be invested in libraries. The priority will be on the one in the Plateau area, followed by the Lucy-Faris and Guy-Sanche libraries.
- Other projects throughout the territory ($10.1 million):
renovation of parc des Cèdres;
heritage protection for the Deschênes rapids;
oxygenation of lac Beauchamp, one of Gatineau's two main O2 reservoirs;
urban revitalization of the old city centres in the Aylmer, Gatineau (rue Notre-Dame), Buckingham and Masson-Angers sectors; and
significant investments to stimulate the utilitarian use of bicycles: new links, improved signs and a new pathway connecting the Masson-Angers and Buckingham sectors along rivière du Lièvre.
For additional information about Gatineau's budget, consult the municipal Web site at gatineau.ca.