The municipal council of the City of Gaspé officially adopted a 2021 budget under the sign of continuity, despite the uncertainties related to the global health situation. The municipal budget will thus amount to $ 27,9 million, a slight decrease compared to the 2020 budget (-0,12%). With the new 2021-2022-2023 assessment roll which provides for an average increase of 2,2% in property values, the municipal council wanted to give citizens a break and therefore reduced the tax rate which will be $ 0,90 per $ 100 of assessment instead of $ 0,92 for the year 2020 (-2,2%), in addition to a complete freeze of all rates (aqueduct, sewers, residual materials and sludge from septic tanks). The airport deficit for the years 2020 and 2021 ($ 1,8M) will be absorbed temporarily by the accumulated surplus of the municipality pending government aid promised for regional airports.
“The municipal council absolutely wanted to limit the impact on the citizens' tax bill with the current health situation which has caused many financial headaches to several people. Despite the municipal issues related to COVID-19 and despite the airport's operating deficit, we are happy to be able to lower the tax rate, which remains one of the lowest in the Gaspé despite an enviable basket of services. With this budget and the new assessment roll, 55% of the units on the roll will see their tax bill drop, ”says the mayor, Daniel Côté.
In the end, the average tax bill for citizens of Grand Gaspé will increase by only 0,9%. Since the value of each property varies with the coming into force of the new assessment roll, the 0,9% increase is only a general average. On the other hand, the reduction in the tax rate of 2,2% is applicable to everyone, as is the freeze on all tariffed services.
“There was no question that the citizens of Gaspé would be the only ones to pay the costs of an essential service like the airport, when we had to keep it in operation at the heart of the pandemic in order to serve government services, without having the revenues associated with the presence of scheduled commercial flights. This is why we have decided to allocate a considerable part of our surplus ($ 1,8M) to temporarily cover this deficit, without taxing it, while waiting for the assistance programs promised by the provincial and federal governments ”hopes Daniel Côté. .
A BUDGET BASED ON CONTINUITY
“We have chosen to bet on continuity for this year, being optimistic about the economic situation of the municipality. The real estate market is in turmoil with an increase in the construction of houses (+56) and rental housing (+28) in 2020, despite the pandemic, not to mention the impressive number of houses sold during the year and the opening of several companies. We do not plan to create any new positions in the municipal administration and we have carried out rigorous expenditure management in each direction in order to absorb the few increases over which we do not have control (insurance contract (+ 70,9% ), SQ quota (+ 3,2%), residual materials (+ 13,4%), etc. Thus, we will not slow down our efforts, while sparing taxpayers as much as possible, ”specifies Mr. Côté.
INVESTMENTS MADE AND TO COME
Several major projects were carried out in 2020:
- The public works service center at $ 5,2M (subsidized at 65%);
- Reconstruction of the L'Anse-au-Griffon wharf for $ 2,4M (100% subsidized);
- Expansion of the runway at Michel-Pouliot de Gaspé airport for $ 8,8M (85% subsidized).
“Several other projects should be completed in 2021, including the Rivière-au-Renard bicycle path and the tourism revitalization project for the Maritime Fisheries Capital of Quebec. Other major projects could start or will make significant progress, such as the supply of drinking water to L'Anse-au-Griffon and the road project between the port, the railways and the Augustines industrial park. Unfortunately, we did not have the support of the governments for our multisport complex project, initially planned for 2022. From the beginning of 2021, we will take stock of this file and develop a strategy so that the arena of Gaspé, completely. obsolete, or all the same replaced. Finally, the files for bringing drinking water supply and wastewater treatment up to standard in Rivière-au-Renard will also be moving forward.
THE CHALLENGES RELATED TO RESIDUAL MATERIALS AND THE AIRPORT
“The 2021 budget is an opportunity to recall two challenges that we will have to overcome collectively. The first is the situation at Michel-Pouliot airport in Gaspé. First, I will make sure that governments keep their promises and come to our aid to cover the airport's operating deficit, specifically linked to the pandemic, the airport being profitable in normal times. Second, the Quebec government's regional air transport intervention group will have to provide long-term solutions for better regional service that is more accessible to the population. If these two elements are combined, we are confident that our airport will be able to play its role as an economic engine and genuine interregional public transport accessible to the population. Moreover, since the opening of the new runway, we have already seen the cancellation rate drop drastically: it went from 10% before the repair of the runway with Air Canada to less than 1% since the arrival of Pascan and the lengthening of the runway by 1 feet. It should also be noted that the Challenger-type hospital plane has landed 000% more often since the lengthening of the runway, ”said the mayor of Gaspé, Daniel Côté.
“The second challenge that concerns us collectively is the management of residual materials. We have a duty to improve ourselves. Not only for the environment, which is sufficient reason in itself, but also because of the significant savings that could be made. Every citizen must do their part. For the moment, we are not meeting, collectively, the objectives that we have set ourselves: we exceed the target set for the quantity of waste generated per inhabitant by 15%, we only recycle 54% of recyclable materials and we do not compost than 20% of compostable material. If we do not change course, the rate of $ 230 per taxpayer, which we have chosen to freeze this year, cannot be maintained. I therefore appeal to citizens to collectively make an additional effort in our sorting. If we are successful, we will save a lot of money in the years to come and we will avoid price increases in the years to come. The intermunicipal board for the treatment of residual materials in Gaspé will also launch a major awareness campaign to this effect, ”concludes the mayor of Gaspé.