Budget 2021 : A tough return to reality for the Plante-Dorais administration

Montréal, November 12, 2020 – The last budget of the current Plante-Dorais administration’s mandate, presented today, reflects the lamentable state of Montréal’s finances since the Projet Montréal team took power in 2017. For the Official Opposition, the “election gifts” of freezing taxes and new public transit pricing for children and seniors (announced for July 2021) hide a much darker financial situation.

“Let’s not forget that these gifts are 100% funded by the $263 million contribution announced by the gouvernement du Québec which once again has had to rescue its metropolis. Last year, when there was no pandemic whatsoever, the government gave the city $150 million to balance its budget. Today, the coffers are empty and we’re still facing a spendthrift administration that has indebted Montrealers beyond acceptable limits for years to come,” declared Mr. Lionel Perez, leader of Ensemble Montréal.

In fact, despite the Official Opposition’s many warnings over the past three years, the Plante-Dorais administration is still failing to cut operating expenses. The only reason it can propose a $1.5 million decrease in expenditures for 2021 is a fierce cut in the cash payment of capital costs, which dropped from $631.6 to $394.6 million, when it should have increased by $80 million per year.

“The cash payment of capital costs is nevertheless an essential element of the city’s borrowing strategy. These steep cuts by the Plante-Dorais administration are putting way too much pressure on the spiralling municipal debt. The total debt ratio (debt/income) has now reached 120%, although the city’s policy states it must not exceed 100%. The city has no more room to maneuver, and the current administration continues to manage like nothing’s changed,” added Mr. Alan DeSousa, mayor of Saint-Laurent and Official Opposition spokesperson for financial matters.

“Now we understand why, a few days ago, Mayor Plante announced the postponement of 20 major 2021 projects. It’s not to give motorists a break, but really because the city doesn’t have the money to carry out the work,” noted Mr. Perez.

Remember that over the past three years, the Projet Montréal administration has increased municipal spending by 17.6%. At the start of the pandemic crisis, it announced cuts of $123 million, clearly insufficient according to the Official Opposition.

“For three years, they partied with the taxpayers’ money! We’re talking nearly a billion dollars in additional expenses and a thousand more employees on the city’s payroll. The pandemic has forced this administration back to reality, whereas if it had better controlled its expenditures since 2017, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Today, the cash drawer’s empty, the debt’s hitting unthinkable summits, and Montréal’s economy has not begun to recover. It will be up to the next administration to pick up the broken pieces because, without change at city hall next year, Montrealers can expect this bad management to continue for a long time,” concluded Mr. Perez.

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