Pontiac council budget adopted: over 4% tax increase offset by lower garbage and recycling fees

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Added: Wed, 01/30/2019 - 3:43pm
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MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC – Over 30 residents attended the regular meeting of Pontiac municipal council on the January 15, 2019 at the Luskville community centre. Charlotte Laforest, the Acting Director General and Ginette Chevrier Bottrill, Director of Finances were present.
Budget
The budget, presented at the December 20, 2018 meeting, was unanimously adopted.
The municipality’s total property evaluation has gone down this year because of damage and loss of housing, due to floods and the tornado last year.
The overall tax rate increased from 64.78 cents per $100 of evaluation to 68.09 cents, an increase of over 4%.  However, service fees for residential garbage ($143.54 per household) and recycling ($53.74 per household) are down 8% and 33% respectively, due to higher provincial grants, so the increase in tax is effectively 2.2% according to Mme Chevrier Bottrill. An “average” property worth $238,266 will owe $39.71 more in tax this year.
The share of MRC des Collines costs is $2.1 million (25% of the budget) with Public Security - Police taking the largest portion of that expense, at $1.6 million.
For residences in Quyon the water main charge has increased by $42, and the sewage charge is $23 more.
Public input and responses
Several residents again raised questions regarding the departure of former Director General, Ben Kuhn, and the amount of public notice given for the December 20th budget meeting. See page 6 for more on this story.
Peter Erwin suggested that the property tax increase is above the cost of living adjustment (COLA) and that “People will leave, go back to the city.” Mayor Labadie replied:  “We still have the lowest tax rate in the MRC except for L’Ange-Gardien and our municipal debt load is too low to qualify for some grants.”
Christian Lauzon, who originally created the Breckenridge rink, located at Davis-Soulière, said he didn’t know the call for tenders would be posted on Québec’s public website, seao.ca.  He has always acted as a volunteer, and in recent years has had the contract to maintain this rink. 
The call for tenders for maintenance of the municipality’s three rinks were combined this year, and required public posting, because costs were expect to be over $25,000.  No offer was received and they are now being maintained by municipal public works. All three municipal rinks have been open since January 11.
See related story on page 9.
Composting
Two councillors responded to a question from Kevin Brady about whether councillors felt they received adequate information to manage taxpayers dollars in general, not just about the composting issue. Tom Howard said, “We have information and now we are more experienced.  [However], no one in Ward 3 has called [him] wanting door to door pickup.” Leslie-Anne Barber said that with respect to compost, “Originally there was not enough information, but the exploratory tenders for the MRC are providing more.” She is “confident that pickup is wanted in ward 6.”
Andrea Goffart asked council to work with residents on composting. Ms Labadie replied that council will make the decision but June is not a firm deadline. She added it was convenient to make the call for tenders and the announcement with the other des Collines municipalities but the MRC waste expert, Patrick Laliberté, has suggested a “hybrid solution” is possible, not just a one-fits-all solution.
Rick Knox suggested that the municipality look at collecting household waste using its own equipment and employees, instead of subcontracting. In 2006 he submitted a 40 page document and according to his analysis, in-house collection would have saved money. Mayor Labadie agreed, adding L’Ange-Gardien does this and she has discussed it with their mayor. However, there are counter arguments including increased insurance costs. She said she will follow this up with Public Works.
Two businesses, Poste d’essence Épicerie Claude at 1189 Clarendon in Quyon and Casse croute chez Sylvie at 3000 rte 148 in Luskville, asked for municipal support in their request to Québec to reduce the gas tax in Pontiac, since there is no gas station 20 km west of Gatineau.
Québec will also be asked to revise the new policy on reimbursement to the fire
service for extrication services - using the “jaws of life” - to cover the actual cost.
Luskville community centre
Diane Lacasse asked when the floor will be replaced (with a reply: in two months) and the washrooms upgraded. She said the Christmas decorations will be removed after the Carnival.
Further delays on Quyon community centre
The contractor refused to give the municipality the keys to the building until all mechanical systems, including water and sewer, were tested.  Public works had urgent work to be completed before freeze-up so the work on water and sewer hook-up only began the week before the holidays but is now complete. The contractor still has to confirm the schedule for mechanical-testing of the building, and possession. The installation of the kitchen will start shortly after.  The hall furniture should arrive within 3-4 weeks. 
Two more properties will be transferred to the Municipality for $1, following spring 2017 floods, 50 ch Bord de l’Eau and 107 ch Bélisle. Plage Bélisle has lost at least 16 properties due to the flooding.
Voir version français: www.journalpontiac.com