Debate at the British
Fiscal pressure on Gatineau
On the question of fiscal management, candidates view taxes differently. According to Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, taxes increased by 6% since 2012; Sylvie Goneau says taxes increased by between 24% and 28% over the last eight years.
Mr Pedneaud-Jobin admits that the taxation system has some flaws and that it must be reviewed to correct inequalities. He explains that the most important pressure on the budget comes from infrastructures: they were built without thinking of a maintenance budget. Today, the workneeded for these aging infrastructures is considerable. He says he has made gains with the federal and provincial governments, sharing spending in thirds as always. He believes taxes will need to be increased by 1.5% the first year and by 1.9% the following years. Plus, he reminds, we must add the infrastructure dedicated tax.
Denis Tassé commits to getting $15 million from reducing city’s administration expenses by creating a Performance Bureau led by experts. He also intends to suspend the infrastructure tax for one year because the city is so behind in this work that it makes sense to give residents a break while the work plan catches up. Rémi Bergeron replied that he has seen the results of going through firms such as Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton in municipalities: they are only there to “cut” and once they leave “everyone’s moral is down”.
Based on a HEC study, Sylvie Goneau say that Gatineau has the “biggest workforce” in Quebec and that she therefore reiterates her proposal to cut some municipal employee positions to reduce spending. She claims that she is “not elected to be popular but to manage citizens’ funds”. She wants a reasonable tax increase. She also agrees with the construction project in Hull to generate revenues.
According to Mr Pedneaud-Jobin, the solution to the city’s financing is the 1% sales tax transfer to the municipalities. Rémi Bergeron believes that to think Quebec will accept this transfer is just a dream; on the other hand, Ms Goneau thinks it may be possible but only in the long term. Clément Bélanger added that his experience managing complex budgets gives him the expertise needed to ensure city work is accomplished within the targeted budget.