On average, homeowners in La Pêche will pay an extra $208 on their taxes this year as the municipality has adopted its 2024 budget with an 8.6 per cent tax increase for the median homeowner – the highest tax increase in the municipality over the last five years.
Of the $208, almost half of that – $85 – is due to the municipality’s new 1,400 square-metre town hall, with a price tag of $10.7 million. La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux explained that the municipality secured over $5 million in grants for the project, bringing the overall contribution by La Pêche to $4.87 million.
He explained that the town hall’s financial impact – for the owner of a median home priced at $290,300 – will be around $85 this year, but added that in following years it will be lower, around $47 for the remaining 20-year borrowing period.
“In 2024, the cost of financing the project is $516,000, but this includes costs for a temporary line of credit,” he said. “But these costs are not going to be repeated in 2025. Next year, without the short-term loan impact, if interest rates stay at five per cent, it’s going to be $396,000, starting in 2025.”
La Pêche adopted a $23.1 million budget on Jan. 22 – a 15 per cent increase from 2023’s $20.1 million budget, with the biggest jumps coming in waste management – up 13.24 per cent – and snow removal, which comes in at a whopping increase of 29.45 per cent.
Lamoureux said that his council is aware of the big jump in snow removal and garbage services, and that the municipality is now analyzing the cost-benefit of providing snow removal in-house.
The municipality would have to purchase its own fleet of vehicles. While that would require a more significant up-front investment, Lamoureux said the municipality would be better positioned to control costs.
“We are at a point now where we estimate that the comparison between what [snow removal] would cost internally and what it costs externally, was about even,” said Lamoureux. “If you do it internally, the yearly increases are much more predictable and consistent.”
La Pêche is also looking at a similar garbage, compost and recycling pickup solution. With costs rising by over half a million for waste, Lamoureux said the significant increase is coming from the MRC des Collines side of things, as the cost of taking waste to the landfill in Lachute has increased considerably.
Lamoureux said that La Pêche, Cantley and Chelsea are joining forces to work on an “inter-municipal service” for waste management.
“The three municipalities would contract out their waste management to one company,” he explained.
“So, there are always efficiency cost savings that can happen or you can attract bigger companies or other companies. We had one bidder in our last [waste management] call for tender, so having a larger contract, you can attract more players and save money.”
Lamoureux said that police costs rose “reasonably,” rising 2.7 per cent to just over $3.3 million. Much of that increase is due to the cops’ new contract, which saw them receive a 17.6 per cent raise over the next five years. The mayor admitted that it was difficult to adopt this year’s budget with a more than eight per cent increase, especially with inflation rising and grocery and gas costs increasing across the country.
He said he understands how difficult this may be for some residents but added that the municipality broke this year’s tax levies into four payments instead of three to help struggling families.
The municipality also realized some quality green projects in 2023, with La Pêche doling out more than $190,000 for eight projects, including a waste reduction plan at the Rupert Community Centre, Lac Gauvreau environmental remedies and Phase 1 of a septic compliance inventory and inspection program.
Lamoureux said he’s looking forward to funding more green initiatives, and added that calls for projects will go out in the spring and fall.
In its triennial expense program, La Pêche has several projects on its wish list, including a generator for the Masham arena at an estimated cost of $400,00 – half of that expected to come in provincial grants. La Pêche also has put aside money to upgrade the Wakefield and Masham sewer systems at nearly $1 million over the next three years.
The new town hall will also impact the municipality’s debt load. While Lamoureux didn’t have 2023 numbers, he confirmed that La Pêche’s debt load was at $12.8 million on Dec. 31, 2023. He added that the $4.87 million for the town hall will be added to that debt load. La Pêche’s 2024 budget presentation states that the municipality is spending $2.3 million – or 9.9 per cent of its 2024 budget – on debt servicing.