Approximately 40 residential and commercial property owners in Lachute took their complaints against a property tax increase to city hall on the evening of Monday, March 7.
The average value of an urban, residential home in Lachute is $217,191, which means the taxes for a property of that value are approximately $2,550 – an increase of 7.9 per cent from 2021 – and an increase of $192 on the property tax bill for a residential property of the average value for 2022. The tax increase for commercial properties in 2022 is 8.9 per cent.
“It’s not funny,” said Claude Audette, who has owned Bar du Pont on avenue d’Argenteuil for 24 years. The property tax bill for his establishment has increased by approximately $1,000 this year, following two years of extended bar closures due to COVID-19.
Former Councillor Alain Lanoue said the taxes for Hôtel Laurentien, downtown on rue Principale, have increased by approximately $3,000. Lanoue previously sought re-election in the November 2021 municipal election but lost his seat when the Vision Lachute party, led by Mayor Bernard Bigras-Denis, swept every seat on council.
Residential homeowners have been hit with tax increases. Karine Charron lives in a semi-detached house and her taxes increased from $2,133.63 in in 2021 to $2,349.01 in 2022. Claude Homel lives in the same home he was raised in, which has been in his family since 1958. In 2021, he paid $1,200 in municipal taxes, and the bill has increased to $1,627 in 2022.
Lanoue said an elderly woman living in the Ayersville sector called him in tears about the $290 increase to her property taxes.
“The 7.9 per cent is the biggest raise (in taxes) in Quebec,” Lanoue remarked.
He is critical of the 2022 budget, which contains $3.5 million or 14.13 per cent more in spending than in 2021. Lanoue is also critical of two councillors who supported the budget. Guylaine Cyr-Desforges and Hugo Lajoie were members of the previous council and were re-elected in 2021 as Vision Lachute candidates.
Bigras-Denis, both in recent days and at the March 7 council meeting, defended the tax increase and explained it was largely due to unavoidable increases in fixed costs and the new property valuation which took place in 2021.
The annual rate per property for municipal water service in Lachute has increased from $210 in 2021 to $221 in 2022. Bigras-Denis said the significant increase in the garbage collection rate is due to a new contract. In 2021, the collection rate was $90 per property. For 2022, it has increased to $131 per property.
Due to the new property valuation roll, the value of commercial properties in Lachute increased by $16,655,000 from 2021 to 2022. Budget documents state there are 131 commercial properties in Lachute. An increase in valuation on a property will result in more taxes owing.
The overall valuation of commercial properties in Lachute was $115,532,000 in 2021 and is $132,187,000 as of 2022. In Québec, the valuation roll is updated every three years.
Lanoue is unconvinced that fixed costs and higher property values are the main reason for the tax increase.
“It’s the spending,” he said.
Bigras-Denis said the tax increase resulting from the new valuation was unavoidable.
“We do not have control over the rolls,” he said.
The mayor added that residents do have the ability to contest their property valuation with the MRC d’Argenteuil.
Bigras-Denis also argued that Lachute’s 2022 tax increase is not the highest in Québec and there are other municipalities with greater increases. He also explained to the 30 citizens assembled in the council chambers the services the MRC d’Argenteuil provides to Lachute in return for its yearly contribution to the regional government, and the challenges associated with the municipal budget process.