Citizens of Saguenay should expect an increase in their tax burden in 2023.
The study of the budget will not begin for a few weeks, but the issue was raised by Finance Committee Chair Councilor Michel Potvin at Tuesday’s midday council meeting.
“We can ask ourselves questions about inflation, gas price increases and interest rates,” said the advisor a few minutes before the end of the meeting.
In a press conference, he explained that the city brought in $2 million in new revenue year after year, but had to deal with $10 million in new spending. However, this figure of 10 million US dollars will be exceeded by the end of 2022.
Mr. Potvin declined to specify the extent of the overrun, but one thing is for sure, unlike last year, the city won’t be able to freeze the property tax.
“Of course there will be a tax increase,” confirmed Mayor Julie Dufour at a press conference after the meeting. We need to find revenue that doesn’t go into taxpayers’ pockets.”
“Last year’s freeze, she continued, was offered by many local authorities to give citizens a break in the wake of the pandemic. But we didn’t promise it for 8 years either,” Ms. Dufour continued.
“The most important thing is that the increase is at a reasonable level for citizens,” Mr Potvin added.
Projects reduced or postponed?
Financial reality will force Saguenay to review many of its planned projects.
This is the case with the conversion of the former Church of St-Édouard de La Baie, to be turned into a municipal library. The council has already pledged to contribute $11 million, but according to the latest estimates from city officials, the project is now valued at $18 million.
“Everything on the table. […] The consultants decide that,” the head of the finance committee replied when asked whether certain projects could be scaled back or postponed entirely.
La Baie councilors would still like to see the tender for the plans and specifications for the St-Édouard church project launched.
“You have to go to the end of the exercise to satisfy the consultants and the group that worked on the project,” says consultant Jean Tremblay. If it costs too much we can always check the other options.