The City of Laval tabled its first budget since the November resignation of long-time mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, promising no property tax increase in 2013 for the 55 per cent of homeowners in Laval who live in single-family dwellings.
The remaining residential taxpayers will face an increase of less than two per cent.
The $749-million budget includes a 0.3 per cent tax increase for non-residential property owners — still far less than the Montreal average of about two per cent.
The city also plans to tighten its control on the awarding of public work contracts to make sure it prevents any possible scandals.
"Not a penny more" for Place Bell, Duplessis says
Laval Mayor Alexandre Duplessis denied reports that the cost of the city's proposed new arena, Place Bell, is ballooning.
When the project was first announced, the price tag was $92.6 million, but the estimate has since risen to $120 million — and recent media reports now suggest the costs have grown to $150 million because the city's private partners Bell and Evenko want to add more private boxes.
Duplessis said the new arena will cost "not one penny more" than $120 million.
"If [there are] some extra costs, they're going to come from the private companies," said Duplessis.
The reports of cost overruns have prompted Quebec's Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault to appoint two auditors to look into the project.
"I don't have a problem with the auditors," said Duplessis, adding they have been working on the project for the past two or three weeks.
Robert Bordeleau, leader of the unelected opposition, Parti au service du citoyen de Laval, said there were lots of questions about the reported overruns but that the city of Laval was failing to answer them.
One key question, he said, was why Laval taxpayers are being asked to pay more than $30 million more than was originally projected.
"He cannot explain the 32 million," Bordeleau said. "It's the same project that was there in February [when the arena was announced.]"Once completed, the new arena will hold three skating rinks and a 10,000-seat showroom.