Dare to compare

I daresay it’s futile to compare municipal budgets, but here goes. On Tuesday, St. Lazare adopted its 2017 budget.  Our neighbour, with a population of in excess of 20,000, will spend $28,375,500 next year. The average St. Lazare home, valued at $370,000, will cost its owner 1.26 per cent more next year in taxes. As Mayor Robert Grimaudo points out, this is less than Canada’s inflation rate.

It’s good but it’s not the best. Earlier this month, Vaudreuil-Dorion, with a population of close to 45,000, adopted a $72 million budget. Nine times Hudson’s population, six times the budget. The average home, evaluated at $309,700, saw its taxes go up by half a percent. That’s a $7 increase.

artistes-talents-d-ici-vaudreuil-dorion-vaudreuil-soulanges-jardin-de-lumieres-lanternes_orig
Artists from throughout Vaudreuil-Soulanges gather to celebrate the illumination of 300 lanterns outside the beautiful église Saint-Michel in Vaudreuil. It’s a spectacularly uplifting display on this, the darkest night of the year and a good reason to drop by Hudson’s big neighbour.

Oh yeah. Vaudreuil-Dorion has that massive commercial core (where I see most Hudsonites doing their shopping). It has those industrial parks, that monstrous tax base, that population. Sometimes, when I hear Hudson folks running Vaudreuil-Dorion down, I wonder whether they’re talking about the same place. I find Vaudreuil-Dorion an exciting, even beautiful city. It may lack trees and dog runs, but it more than makes up for the shortage of natural settings with its energy and vitality – and above all, the dedication of its mayors Réjean Boyer and Guy Pilon and their respective councils to the concept of a 10, 20, 30-year game plan.

St. Lazare may not have Vaudreuil-Dorion’s tax base but it has learned over the years to manage its cash flow (http://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/budget). The new city hall going up across from the sports complex won’t figure in the 2017 tax bills, but the $3.8 million in subsidies for the new firehall and community facilities will lighten the burden. The resurgence in the real estate market has generated welcome taxes to defray the cost of new sanitary and storm sewers, aqueducts and beefed-up public security. There’s cash for repaving streets and building bike paths to meet the demands of a young, active population (the city’s eighth school is nearing completion). If St. Lazare was a family, we’d say they were living within their means.

Hudson isn’t.

Here’s another number to compare: This year’s St. Lazare recreation department budget is a little less than $4.5 million. Hudson, which marries recreation and culture, will spend slightly more than $1.5 million. I know I’m comparing ants and aardvarks, but I just can’t help pointing out that spending doesn’t guarantee quality.

What does Hudson have that St. Lazare and Vaudreuil-Dorion don’t? Our region’s only English-language high school. Bilingual status. A spectacular waterfront with a view that millionaires crave. A compact town centre where everything is within walking distance. World-class entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Venerable clubs.

So here’s my question: Why is Hudson not doing a better job of marketing to the world? From the little I’ve seen, Hudson isn’t getting much bang for its buck. Craft fairs, hired celebrities, improvised parades and garage sales don’t cut it. It’s time for some new thinking – and that doesn’t mean record budgets. Even if you’ve got the money those days are done.

 

 

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55 thoughts on “Dare to compare

  1. Jim with regard to your comment about the town should be doing a better marketing job. Well, they think they are doing a great job, because they are bringing visitors into the downtown core through these events. Do I think that all events that bring visitors to the town is a good thing? To a point. What is the actual return on investment on those activities which are getting more expensive every year? Has it ever been measured? I know that the strategic plan mentioned that businesses will improve their sales by 4 times when Hudson has a national arts centre and eco-trollies. Where on earth did they get those figures? Certainly not from private entrepreneurs who are very tight-lipped about their numbers. They are not public companies so I question that statement. Restaurant owners do say, of course, they do more business when there is a parade in town, especially St. Patrick’s parade but who are we attracting? shoppers? not from what retailers are telling us, save for a very few niche stores.The street fair brings in many out-of-town vendors who compete directly with the business tax paying retailers. Tables are set up right in front of their stores so their store takes a back seat. The only retailers who might do well is if they set up shop outside too and it has always been hard to get them to participate simply because they are not The Bay or Winners, they have to hire and pay staff to man the tables while they try and drum up business inside the store. The town feels the event is only 2 days so shouldn’t impact the local businesses too much. The other thing about our wonderful attractions, why are we not charging an admittance/entrance fee for non-residents? We are giving away our best assets, like Sandy Beach, our trails, the dog parks, all for free access? Ever try and launch your boat this summer and actually find parking? You will find that many of those boat owners don’t live in Hudson and come here because it’s free as the town stopped collecting fees saying it wasn’t cost efficient. Show me where else in Vaudreuil or Rigaud that it’s free. It’s not. At least the fees collected could go towards the maintenance of those attractions. Why are we giving free access to non-residents? Maybe the thinking is that boat owners will stop for a meal, or stop to shop in Hudson stores. Maybe, but just ask the owner of the cafe at the corner of Main and Cameron if business is booming and he will say no, it could be much better. Fabio’s has closed, The Main kitchen is doing mostly catering (great food by the way), Carousel up for sale as well as the Viviry. Carambola has his loyal clientele, local and otherwise, and surely doesn’t need all those special town events to bring in diners. You’re right that you need more than parades and artisan fairs. The arts? well look around, lots of arts events in other towns too, not unique to Hudson. Village Theatre? doing better than it used to, but still needs subsidies from the town. I guess surrounded by Francophones and a dwindling Anglophone population is the reason.
    I certainly don’t have the answer but before trying to market Hudson, start by dealing with your infrastructure problems first, water, roads, sewers (i.e. problem areas such as Birch Hill). This is like decorating the house while the roof is leaking. Priorities first. Stop trying to attract visitors, pay attention to our needs, us, the taxpayer!

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    1. I wasn’t talking about marketing to day trippers and shoppers. If you read the Archer Report you’ll know the futility in that course of action.
      The people Hudson needs to attract are developers, entrepreneurs, businesspeople who want to live and work in Hudson and raise families here.
      I agree with you there’s nothing to be gained by activities that bring people to town for the day. Yes, they end up costing businesses.
      I’m sick to death hearing about the arts and how a cultural centre will save us from ruin. Every Dogpatch has an arts festival, music festival, garlic, tomato, whatever festival. At best they end up trading a buck for four quarters. Me, I’d promote Hudson as a fluently bilingual federalist bastion where your kids will end up learning both official languages. Isn’t that what Stuart McLean found when the Vinyl Cafe came to town? By default we’ve handed control of our town to a bunch of mercenaries. Lawyers who don’t or can’t practise, bureaucrats who treat us as their employees instead of the other way around. We’re their dupes and we deserve to be duped if we can’t see what they’re doing with our town.

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      1. You know Jim, you an I sometimes disagree on things, but what you have written here I agree 100%. Let’s put these frustrating thoughts out of our head and enjoy Christmas with our families. We can start debating again in 2017, debate is good!

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  2. More often than not Duff’s overviews are dead-on: quote: .” a cultural centre will save us form ruin” I’d like to step in here and take la raison d’être du culture- talk a tidbit deeper.

    With years of experience behind me, never have I known an arts organization that’s a money maker. Subsidies keep the arts going. However, I’ve seen attractive communities grow around art colonies that served to push real estate values up, sunny climate included.

    The Arts goes beyond cash value. Art is one form of freedom of expression of a tangible and intangible cultural landscape . Am a great believer in authentic freedom of cultural expression- whatever it is.

    Cultural identity and community building are closely linked. Culture is the DNA of a community. Culture goes beyond bricks and mortar. Imagination cannot be foot-printed. Nor is Imagination privileged solely to artists , business people have it. The variant is in the realization. of the idea.

    Recognition of oneself within a community embraces a sense a belonging. it promotes collectiveness, sharing, helping one another, co operation. cohesiveness…….all that is good.

    Hudson has and continues to have a certain an on-going market for faire à la main. . People move to Hudson for it; tourists come to Hudson expecting it: be it at Finnegan’s summer Flea market, boutique Pure Art’s slow hand-made fashion items or Julia Schroeder’s Pop Culture flavours. Livelihoods therein.

    New arts centre needed ? Me thinks not. When Hudson refused Zanfir’s concert hall an opportunity was lost. There’ is a pulse in the Hudson community today that urges an arts-related flavour that stems from a source that is radically different than their neighbours- Vaudreuil and Rigaud. Is that a problem? I think not.

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    1. I appreciate Vaudreuil’s lanterns because it was a collective project that involved their entire arts community and cost the taxpayer next to nothing. Hudson’s arts and culture budget, in my humble opinion, has its priorities upside down.
      The Shaar administration rejected demands that the town take over the railway station now home to the Hudson Village Theatre. I criticized them at the time but I now see how it forced those interested in a theatre to roll up their sleeves and get it done. Le Nichoir’s For The Birds birdhouse and art postcard fundraisers were brilliant and cost the taxpayers nothing. My point is that Hudson has a tradition of getting things done without taxpayer cash infusions. if the arts community is dedicated to what you describe as the need for a local arts scene, it can roll up its sleeves, find private contributors and sponsors. I daresay the average taxpayer would prioritize safe streets and sidewalks over things hanging from trees in Sandy Beach Park.
      I’m libertarian by nature. Governments can’t generate wealth, create jobs or guarantee healthy economies. What governments can and should do is create the regulatory environments to encourage entrepreneurs, investors and businesses to locate within their borders and thrive.
      The role of regulation is to ensure a level playing field for all within established guidelines. In other words, if the town’s master plan says no shipping containers or semi trailers should be used as storage, it should apply equally to all. This administration has deluded itself into thinking it alone has the power and the brilliance to make Hudson thrive. It’s a ridiculous and dangerous conceit.

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  3. Anthropology 101: What is Culture? It is what defines us. It is learned behaviour, language, religion, the arts, practices, ideas, our history. Unfortunately, many people think of culture as simple the arts. I too don’t believe a cultural centre will save this town. When future buyers see how well run a town is, what services or attractions are available they will come and settle here. I keep thinking back of a book I read when first elected called “L’Obsession du Citoyen” written for Quebec’s Villes et Villages en Santé organization. The author states that whenever council makes a decision, the first thing they have to keep in mind, is will it benefit the citizens? The World Health Organization hired 2 sociologists to go and research what a healthy community is. Their report, which was adopted by the WHO, stated that to be a healthy community, residents should have access to clean air and water, have adequate shelter, feel safe in their community and one of the important things was that they feel they have a voice in that community. At this moment, I don’t feel Hudson is a “healthy” community and that has to change for the benefit of everyone.

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    1. Vaudreuil has a craft studios operating in the Valois house run by an excellent professional. Her costumes are to something to talk about.! Their projects are fun for kids. Have taken grandchildren children there. It’s a beautiful space, well supplied and the teachers are helpful to citizens. Someone pays for Valois house! And it’s well worth it.
      Other than the aforementioned we’re not in contradiction-I think?

      In answer to Politics 93- yes, indeed culture includes the arts but is not limited to it.

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  4. The central question is External Economy or Internal Economy?

    We have little to no external economy. Hudson lacks an industrial park and a viable retail market that would extend our town revenue. I believe that one of the primary problems in Hudson is overtaxing the commercial sector which makes Hudson a difficult place to run a small start-up boutique or service. We tax too high relative to the number of visitors we can generate. The Hudson commercial sector is primarily of value for Hudson residents, and some successful retailers have established satellite shops closer to real customer traffic because their growth in Hudson is limited by how far potential customers will drive to buy a product. My conclusion would be to significantly reduce the taxes in the downtown core to ensure that we maintain a grocery, a bakery, a hardware and lumber store, and a wider range of boutiques. At the same time, we need to fully renovate the downtown core for better walking and parking, as well as appearance and ambiance or we’ll lose what we’ve got.

    Our internal economy will only grow by the rate of expansion of our tax base, so some reasonable amount of development is required just to make Hudson fiscally viable again.

    Can we develop an external economy? External economies must bring revenue beyond property value taxation, and they must do that in 2 days per week. I don’t believe our retail tax system gets a percentage of the till or percentage of rent and the Town of Hudson doesn’t sell branded apparel in its own boutique, so where does the money flow to Hudson from with an external economy? It’s an illusion that adding ten shops and five restaurants will solve any fiscal limitations we face. Those additions will add value to Hudson homes and condos as our services improve. Quality serviced rental office at reasonable price for entrepreneurial businesses would be a great start, those owners and employees would eventually want to live here.

    For probably good reasons, we lack the public will to double our size, so we must remain vigilant at managing efficiently. That’s the primary area we’re failing miserably at. Our overspending on staff and under spending on infrastructure places us in a very tight box fiscally, and will force all manner of bad decisions for Hudson over the next decade, including perhaps forced merger.

    An Arts and Culture center lacks funding from a managing partner with deep pockets. My feeling is that without such a partner, Hudson cannot even ponder such a luxury. Had we accepted Zamfir’s generous offer, we’d be funding a near certain annual deficit for a third decade now and our net fiscal position would be far worse, It was a great offer, wisely refused.

    The Village Theatre is a wonderful resource enabled by private citizens without support from the Town. It seems appropriately sized for Hudson, and if it could generate more revenue profitably they would be talking of expanding I’m sure.

    Big dreams built on spreadsheets are great entertainment but rarely accomplished. To be able to move forward, both our dreams and expectations must be realistic and acknowledge our past failures to manage ourselves and our current fiscal position.

    Two not so simple choices remain to us:

    1) Manage what we have, fix what’s broken and pay for only what we need with a tight fist and strong vision so we can keep it under our control.

    2) Double our population and tax revenue very quickly, manage our finances to surplus, fix what’s broken, and only then then entertain luxuries a majority want.

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    1. I enjoyed reading your article Peter and for me I prefer #1 choice of paying for only what we need and keeping expenses down. I really didn’t move here for “luxuries”, the natural surroundings are luxury enough for me. Of course, I don’t know if my choice is the right one, just that it feels right for me.
      You mention in your article that the downtown core is taxed too much and I have heard Jim mention that the way the invoices to business owners for sewer/water expenses are too high. That may be; however, this council did away with the business tax and instead opted for a non-residential tax on commercial properties. Not exactly novel, it is done in all municipalities in Quebec because it is fairer, and business taxes sent to the business owners who operate the business, well when they fail to pay, it’s a little hard to collect to say the least. If you look at the non-residential property rate the council imposed last year it was a miniscule increase if you compare it to surrounding towns where the non-residential rate is double, triple or quadruple the residential rate.
      You are right about the internal and external influences for a thriving commercial core. That is why the SDC will concentrate our efforts on a Shop Local campaign this year. We shall call it Shop Hudson/Shop Local. All done by volunteers of course, including that map listing all businesses in town. We did not get a subsidy an the 16,000 or so the town collects on our behalf is all we get; the town decided not to give us a helping hand, instead deciding to give events like the car show, artisans, etc. who have a one or two day event, taxpayers dollars. The SDC works 12 months a year and about every other SDC in Quebec gets financial assistance to hire a coordinator. The coordinator has been me at no cost to the town.
      As far as attracting outside shoppers and marketing Hudson for potential buyers, I truly believe that is the town’s job. In my mind, Hudson needs a marketing campaign costing mucho dineros, to rebrand Hudson, throwing money just here and there isn’t going to cut it. My son-in-law is a branding specialist, having rebranded many top companies and he has enlightened me on how much it costs. Unfortunately, it’s the old chicken and egg theory, how can you spend money on marketing when your infrastructure is a mess, including the downtown core which would really need sprucing up as it’s not really conducive for walking around, especially with strollers, You can talk about our wonderful trails, but you can’t publicly invite visitors to go on private land without getting servitudes. It may be ok for residents to walk their dogs on private land but advertising it? I think not. Has to be fixed first.
      You also mention the Village Theatre and that it gets no funding from the town. Big inaccuracy there Peter, last year the theatre got $30,000 + in funding, a little less the year before and for 2017 who knows as in the minutes of the council meeting of Nov. where resolutions were passed authorizing subsidies, no names or amounts are listed. Don’t get me wrong, I like the theatre although it’s only one of Hudson’s attractions, I agree with my tax dollars giving them a helping hand; however, at one point they should be self-sufficient.

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    2. A note on Zamfiri’s concert hall.

      I so do not agree that Zamfir’s offer was wisely refused. It had much merit. He was a remarkable and knowledgeable patron. There is an uncomplicated formula used to establish arts centres. The bookends are patronage and an operating endowment. Raising the initial capital is the easy part, everyone like to see their name on a building. If I remember correctly, the refusal was stamped by a west end ‘not in my back yard’ residence.?

      Inherent in Zamfir’s concert hall were the essentials for success. The concert hall sat within the context of a popular art forum, it had artistic content before ground breaking and offered a small town a ready-made clientele that went beyond regional boundaries. There was only one more organizational item that had to be established: an operating endowment. Not unusual, most well run arts establishment have a foundation the covers 75% of operating costs.

      . No point looking back. Move-on.

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  5. Thanks , Peter it’s always nice for me anyway to trim a task down to the bare essentials and basic questions and work from there. What is it we absolutely need and do we have enough to pay for that with a reasonable burden on the taxpayers through the yearly tax revenues and a manageable debt which Ron Goldenberg states should be around 25 million. I happen to see the logic in that . So far , there has been no tax revolt from the residential sector , maybe some minor beefs about tariffs and services not available to some. I haven’t heard widespread complaints on the amount of taxes we’re paying . Ask most folks and they wouldn’t be able to tell you what they paid in municipal and school taxes last year . That’s quite an anecdotal statement I might get slammed for so have at it. I don’t think our taxes are that high and I will keep that to the residential sector. We’re back down around 23 million in long term debt . Now if this administration would just stop with the sky is falling nonsense and stop finding excuses not to do things……….oh-oh we need 10 environmental reports on Pine Lake……..oh-oh we need to make sure every inch of road in Town has been notarized and researched before we can start fixing them………….oh-oh call the lawyers again . This frozen in the headlights has become a portrait of the Prevost administration.

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    1. It’s all relative, I guess. I based my calculations on a few addresses I knew and could verify. I hear there are some unites de voisinage with 30% valuation hikes but have yet to find any so I guess we won’t know until the tax bills go out and people start screaming. Me, I find Hudson’s taxes are increasing year over year at an alarming rate but I’m a cheap Scot. I’m always left wondering what we get for the increase. More and better services? Less totalitarianism? Now they propose to hit the commercial sector with water meters. Not the three golf clubs, not the yacht club, not the Willow, because they’re not in the core. This has nothing to do with water conservation and everything to do with taxation because they can. Divide and conquer. This crew is excellent at that.

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  6. I think Hudson’s debt levels are never stated well explained or accurately and that we’re too debt adverse. For many years, long term debt would have been destructive to the criminal in town because the additional scrutiny would have caused problems with the cooked books and fictional surplus designed to placate sleeping citizens, but that’s all water under the dam now.

    To clarify a bit: The vast majority of Hudson’s long term debt is not serviced by the taxpayers but by the addresses with sanitary sewers through user fees. These should not be calculated as tax supported debt for the entire community. Same goes to the operating costs of the sewers and Hudson’s Brick Shithouse Treatment Plant. The massive recent reduction in our “debt” was actually not from payments, but from finally getting the Quebec part of the grants for the sewage system approved so that part of the debt will be serviced by Quebec.

    I don’t have the hard numbers, it’s hard to establish baselines when we change Treasurers as often as some residents change underwear. But I’d estimate that the amount of long term debt left from the sewers is probably $18 million of the $23 million total. That means that Hudson’s real town wide long term debt is closer to $5 million and irresponsibly low as we’ve not borrowed enough to maintain our roads and expand our water system.

    In the old days, municipalities formed separate water and sewage corporations to isolated the expenses from those who could not use the services.

    One of the things that happens when there’s not enough public debt is more easy free spending on other services and overheads. Water meters in the commercial core will add bureaucracy and cost and eventually prove nothing constructive to settle an argument about a tiny percentage of our water consumption. If you’re going to add meters to the commercial core, then add them to homes with pools and irrigation systems which I’ll bet consume more public water than the commercial sector.

    We’ve had a revolving door in both employees and councils and therein lies our major problem. There’s been an acceptance of past methods, a simplistic presentation of the facts and the Council gets the same old approach over and over, then it gets tough and most of them don’t run again. So inexperience and lack of long term vision and understanding cause us to remain in the dark.

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  7. Dead on as usual, Peter.
    To crack the code on Hudson’s long-term debt, one needs copies of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget bylaws, the external auditors’ reports for 2014 and 2015 and the April 2016 treasurers interim report.
    Essentially, each tranche is connected to a loan bylaw. Every loan bylaw relating to the water and sewer systems is connected to a paragraph in the budget resolution. Every paragraph sets a tax rate or tariff, depending on whether the taxable property is located within or outside the territories delineated by Annex A. I have been unsuccessful in getting a copy of Annex A but when I suggested to Goldenberg Annex A represents all taxable properties in the sewered core he didn’t say I was wrong.
    The town has promised to post everything on the municipal website but this usually takes several weeks or months. I have extra copies in both languages.

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  8. That accumulated debt(dette a l’ensemble) has a separate section of the mil rate to itself = 11 cents /$100 of evaluation in 2016. In 2017 it will be lowered to about to 7-8 cents per $100 because of the finally received 6 million sewer grant long overdue from Quebec. The general tax mil rate will increase from 69 cents to 76-77 cents per $100 to total up to , I think, just around 83-84 cents. Marcus Owen pointed out that that was close to a 10% increase in genaral tax . Ron Goldenberg pointed out that overall though the mil rate was only increasing from 83 to 84 ( I hope i have that near right). Bit disingenuous and lacking in transparency to try and justify the new tax increase in those terms. Also I am waiting for my own tax ax to fall as it was indicated vacant land will now have a different mil rate ( higher) to penalize hoarding and encourage us all to sell to developers who will implement their strategic planning. My agricultural evaluation (vacant land) rose by 220% in the last role so along with this new agr. /vacant mil rate I’m expecting the worst. Funny though , no developers have been knocking on my door . oh, that’s right It’s frozen by the Quebec gov’t. I better plant some subsistence crops or open a giant off leash dog park.

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  9. If this is correct then the sewage project debt is probably being charged twice. Once to every taxable property, then again to the sewered properties.

    I do hope that’s not the case, but there’s no other likely explanation for the drop in accumulated debt service as part of the mil rate.

    The sewer debt, as well as I believe the water improvement debt were financed by fees and should be excluded from the mil rate.

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    1. Until I obtain a copy of Annex A everything is speculation. I see the water meters on businesses as an attempt to legitimize a taxation structure which may well be illegal. You’ll recall that was this administration’s mantra when it tore up the original 70/30 split. (70% of the sewer project to be paid for by 30% of taxpayers; 30% of the cost to be paid by the other 70%.)

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  10. I honestly didn’t think that split was so bad. I didn’t mind paying for 30% of the debt as a non-user. For me it was a much needed improvement of my town which I view as an extension of my property. If my town is well infrastructured my place is worth more. Same for the fire department. It was like an expensive piece of furniture we buy and there was some sticker shock but we might as well enjoy it and stop complaining. It’s beautiful. Do the tariffs not pay for operational costs and the debt for the capital costs ? That was my understanding. It was this adm. that suddenly said that non-users can’t be charged for services they don’t have access to which Trail tells me is absolute bullshit in municipal financing of projects like the sewers. I say go back to the split 70/30 .

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    1. I agree if the 70/30 split works both ways. But the answer is always “sorry Daren, it doesn’t work that way”. Fix that nuance and I’m on board!

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  11. Agreed, Brian. This administration went postal on the three water/sewer bylaws for reasons still unexplained, then proceeded to break what wasn’t broken. Whenever asked why, their rote reply is a collection of inarticulate, disjointed mumblings about favouritism, sabotage, conspiracies, unjustified entitlements and gold-standard pension plans. Since when was $300 a month a gold-standard pension? And they get away with it by chanting ‘Villandre!’

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  12. The change happened largely because a Waterless Well owning West Ender complained about the fees for water and sewage based on the MAMOT principle that municipalities can’t charge citizens for services the don’t receive. I believe that was early Haulard/Prevost days. So they rejigged the numbers. Liz Corker has asserted elsewhere on this blog that the 70/30 split was absolutely legal and three was no legal reason to change it. Major problem with lack of continuity or notes on why things are the way they are.

    I don’t have my tax bill handy, but I believe the Sewered get two charges, one for debt on the network and on for the annual operating fee. Total of the two approx $650 annually if memory serves me, still cheaper than owning, operating and replacing a septic system over 30+ years.

    It’s a real dog’s breakfast in the regurgitated many times Hudson finances.

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    1. Yes, they seized on Daren’s legitimate complaint and Daniel Rodrigue’s threats to go whining to MAMROT, which told them to figure it out for themselves. You’ll recall the minister Nathalie Normandeau herself signed off on those three bylaw, which was reason enough for UPAC to go through everything with a fine tooth comb and find nothing. Bebelala behaviour cost the town maybe $200,000 and solved nothing. I agree the westenders had a case after the town promised, then retracted after discovering it would cost $1M + to run a water line down from Mount Victoria. To the best of my recollection, town water stops at the tracks at the foot of Macaulay Hill and everyone west of Cameron farm is on the old Ste Madeleine line from Rigaud. Seems to me there are a variety of options, the least expensive being to stop taxing anyone not on town water. How many doors would be exempt? Maybe 100 out of 2200?

      Sent from my iPhone

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      1. You may want to post the picture you have showing the map of the “NEW” water line that disappeared without mention.

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      2. The number of homes is actually 80. I did my research. The fact that the government approved the loan bylaw doesn’t say much. When I called MAMROT (now MAMOT) and asked them how they could approve something that went against the municipal taxation act the person on the phone told me that is not their job, their job is to see that the paperwork is in order. You do remember how later in 2014? or so, the government refused some expenses (Raris, ABS, I can’t remember the rest,) because those invoices did not go through proper procedures? They went through MAMROT at the time. Everybody seems to have an opinion about what is fair concerning who can be taxed for water and sewer, but what is exactly legal? Well, my husband and I went to see a lawyer specializing in municipal law and his legal opinion was that it was not legal to tax a resident for a service he did not get or was unavailable to him. He based his 4 page legal opinion on jurisprudence and he came up with the conclusion that no, you cannot tax a resident for a service that he doesn’t have and is not there. That opinion did not come cheaply so no don’t tax me for a service I do not have. I have to pay extra insurance for having no hydrant close by, I have to test the well water, just look at how many times a week the town tests residents well water not only for bacteria but also from minerals to make sure there is not too much of certain minerals in there. We need a generator as we cannot flush toilets, nor shower, never mind drink water. So…….there is a cost to all that and I have to absorb it myself. How many residents not having a service would be willing to pay for mine? Brian, maybe, thank you Brian but I don’t feel this way. When residents use the ridiculous argument that we all pay school taxes even if we don’t have kids who go to school, well that’s true but the schools are there should I decide to adopt a child who had to go to school. I was even told by L. V. that if I go into town and have a glass of water in the restaurant it benefits me so I should contribute. Well, if the restaurant is paying more in taxes because of that water bylaw you can bet your bottom dollar I am paying more for my meal. Compare the cost of your breakfast at the local eatery before and after the loan by-laws and you will see price increases. As Daren says, I can’t believe we are still talking about this. As it is we already pay through general funds for a lot of maintenance of the wells including electricity. If I find out that the way the town has reduced the debt is by downloading the water debt to the 80 homes, I will lawyer up. I hate injustice and I would speak up for others in the same boat.

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  13. Except that, you can’t be taxes on a service you don’t have. That was made obvious when the research was done behind it. So while you may have liked paying 30% for something you will most likely never have a chance in recieving.. it’s against the law. I know Corkers golden legislation was great for some, as they see her a shining beacon of moral fiber, but in actual fact.. it’s against the law.

    But if you’re looking to pay for 30% of something you’ll never receive.. I’m going to order a pizza from the vivary and would like someone to be obliged to take up 30%. So Brian, you can make the check payable to me for 13.71$.. 30% good sir! And you’ll never see a piece! Of both pizza or sewers.

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    1. The applicable bylaw was passed with the waterline being extended westward from Macaulay hill. I think it’s bylaw 504 (but I do not have a copy in front of me right now). Once that line goes in, I am all for paying the same as everyone else. For some reason, the project was scrapped and never announced. Former Mayor Corker may have an explanation as it was never explained why the idea was aborted and where the $1 million that was earmarked for the new line actually went. In effect, the bylaw was passed on false pretence. I still say: run a waterline down from Alstonvale, to Main, extend the line from Macaulay hill all the way to the the Rigaud line servicing the west end residents, plug them all together to become one large system, along with fire hydrants and hook ups outside every residence, and then all addresses can pay the exact same tax for water. Me included. If not, and some people continue to think the 30/70 split is fair if they so choose, please tell me where I can submit the bill for my well so I can get the rest of the residents to pitch in their 30% of my water. Or, put in a new water system only for those of us currently on wells in the west end and let everybody else in town pitch in their 30% and see how well that goes. (Pardon the pun). It is illegal to tax people for services they do not receive. I can’t believe we are still talking about this. It has nothing to do with being a good citizen or not, because if that was the issue, I would expect the rest of the good citizens of Hudson insisting on running the missing waterline westward. I can’t remember anybody currently with town water standing up at the mic and demanding the mayor and council (present or past) do so.

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      1. I admit Daren that bylaw 504 was a cluster f…k. It was passed but they found out after that $1 million was not near enough to get the job done. At that point they backed away because of cost and because in our end of town I don’t believe there was ever consensus on whether we wanted it or not. I am happy with my own well and septic but I’m a do-it you selfer off grid sort of creature and I can surely see the other side of the coin. The germane question concerns whether the money was in fact ever borrowed . That I am not sure of. If it was and used for other purposes that would seem clearly illegal. But I am not sure it ever was which would make 504 just a costless empty paper promise.

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    2. Kevin’s clever pizza analogy has finally succeeded in draining my noblesse oblige. The thought of my tax burden supplying a fellow taxpayer like Kevin (or his parents if that’s the case) with a free lunch has extinguished my municipal largesse .
      I’m now willing to follow Daren along the course 30/70 , 70/30 fair is fair split. I know what a well and septic system in our clay lined west end costs. The two amount to somewhere around 50K in today’s market. Our collective 80 homes( Diane) have spent a total of $4 million on our own infrastructure. 30% of that is $1.2 million divided by our fellow piped Hudsonites (2700 or so of mixed pipe benefits) or $444 of long term debt per household.. Now clearing that debt over 20 years ( life expectancy of well and septic) at 3% comes to an annual cost to you or your mum/dad , Kevin of $29.84 you could owe me! Now that may lead to little less pizza per year in your household but ultimately that will only lead to you being able to maintain your lithe youthful physique.

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  14. You’re perhaps all missing my point.

    I think that because the debt is consolidated into one numbers, everyone (all taxpayers) may be paying for the debt on the sewers and water anyway in your mil rate, based on Brian’s comment about the drop in mill rate for long term debt.

    And the users of water and sewers are indeed paying for the applicable debt via fees.

    Hudson’s debt and where it is serviced from has never been stated by the town in an understandable and complete way. That in spite of a series of 4 or 5 Treasurers.

    I believe that West End water needs to be fixed. It’s a broken promise.

    My proposal formulated quietly with other Hudson thinking people:

    I think we should pump water from the lake (Two Mountains, not Pine) around Thompson Park level , filter and treat with a new plant it in the vacant land across Main from the park and supply the West end as well as pump it up to our existing network to increase the supply. Solves the West End Water, and also future water supply for Hudson simply and with minimum disturbance to existing buildings and infrastructure. Probably cost about what 2 doomed to fail drilled wells would and would be expandable for future needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that there are supposed to be separate line items on the tax bills for those serviced. By laws 504, 505 and 554 should appear if you have town water and sewage to cover those 3 loan bylaws. I have no way of knowing unless someone with services is willing to compare tax bills.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Absolutely correct , Peter, we need to get away from this well thing and go to the Ottawa River . Well water has to be treated as precisely as river water so, same facilities. Now we can put a pipe horizontally 300 ft. out into the lake or drill 2-3 vertical well shafts at 250 ft. per well. My bet is , as yours , the former will be cheaper.

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  16. Show me the legislation that says 70/30 is legal! It’s amazing how the former mayor is capable of pinpointing to the decimal place, the exact bylaw for that Munsters mansion built on quarry point.. or send Helen Kragansky to battle for her… but as for the 70/30 legislation.. it’s all pie in the ski, airy fairy balogna that according to MAMROT is illegal. Concocted bull that was passed off as legal. Like the 40 year flat water tax.

    The only mistake Rodrigue made was to not take up permanent residence at the MAMROT building, and just race upstairs every time the former former mayor came out with hootinanies dubbed as “legal”

    As for Peter, I like your idea. The water though would have to be pumped, without interruption to a holding tank to the highest point in Hudson, acting as a “water tower” if you will, so it can flow downhill. That would require a direct pipe to the top of Woodland, where the water could flow down hill from there. It still needs to be worked on, but that’s a great location for starters. That entire parking lot can’t even be used because of the mud that causes cars to sink to their axels.

    So, Noblesse Obleige, is my check for 13.71 ready yet? Because if there’s seriously a market of people paying 30% of a service they will never receive and don’t mind.., then damn! Opportunity knocks. I should propose a moon dust cleaning service with a very special broom that cleans the moon dust after every equinox for the equivalent amount of that 30% was. What a missed our business venture. But at least your 30% would be well spent!

    While you are out and about learning Latin terms, here’s one for you: Vox Peupli.

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    1. Hudson already has a water tower. It’s called the water filtration facility and you can see it at the top of the hill opposite the cellular tower on Harwood. The term I think you’re looking for is vox populi. The voice of the people, like the one that elected Trump. Good reason not to trust it.

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  17. Noblesse Oblige is the Hudson town motto, Kevin and it’s French actually. I think I said a lot of people in the west end have their own wells and are ok with that . I,however, never said they were happy paying 30% for water services they don’t receive. I said I was OK with it and ,as I have said before ,read carefully or you’ll have to go back to sitting at the kids’ table even though you are ,quite obviously ,fluent in Latin.

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    1. Everyone: I have a simple procedure for working out your tax bill for 2017. I took the liberty of computing tax bills for everyone who has contributed to this discussion. Would anyone object to my posting the results?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree that most west enders are OK with their own wells. I am too. But sometimes we don’t know what we want until we need it. I would see an opportunity to hook up to town water at the end of my driveway as an insurance if it was ever indeed needed. An insurance I am more than willing to pay for. And so long as we are doing refreshers, the original intent of the applicable paragraph in bylaw 504 was to run a waterline to the extreme west enders who were being serviced by Rigaud. There had been some previous exploration for water out here by the town with no luck due to impurities found in the water samples taken. The Rigaud service had deteriorated to a very bad level and Hudson residents were being poorly served with often dirty water and low pressure. Typical end of the line issues. The extension of the Hudson town waterline from Macaulay hill was the proposed fix to the situation, and as such, we were all (those of us between Macaulay hill and the house behind mine) told we were going to get the municipal water line as a result whether we wanted it or not. I remember that part very clearly from the public consultation meeting. I was actually trying to find a loophole that would allow me to opt out of it as my well was new and I felt invincible (or waterproof at least). My recollection is that Rigaud managed to get a grant to repair the well and line in question, they had to pay their mandatory percentage in order to obtain the grant, and billed Hudson for their portion of that percentage. And just like that, the west end dirty water/low pressure issues went away. Well kind of. Enough so for the Hudson elected officials, at the time, to do away with the west end extension waterline included in bylaw 504 that had already been passed uncontested (uncontested as it included something for all). But nobody was told the project to run the waterline west had been scrapped. It was not only scrapped due to the poorly budgeted project ($1M), but the leaders found a way to have the already serviced west enders water service improved. The biggest issue is that the project changed after the bylaw was passed. I still can’t understand how that was or is legal. I remember challenging Mayor Corker on the $1M earmarked for the project and she assured me that it was sufficient thanks to modern technologies that would allow for easy and efficient installation. My response to her was: “if its that easy, why not put in the sewer line at the same time?” I may have been a bit naive back then.
      Oh how I wish I could go back to sitting at the kids table.
      And we are still talking about this?!!?

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      1. Daren, you raise a serious issue involving the ethics of the original 2006 loan bylaw. Did LBCD know the west end line was a non-starter when it filed docs for fed and provincial grants? Did LBCD share that with the town? I tried to nail that down for eight years.

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      2. What does the acronym LBCD stand for? Regardless, I doubt I will have the answer to your 8 year old question anyways.

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  18. Daren, it isn’t worth deciphering what LCBD stands for. By the time you do they’ve morphed into some other entity which make up the slimy cesspool of municipal consultants in Quebec. Engineering companies often have bed partners in the municipal construction sector and in the bureaucracy of government grant giving. LCBD probably does the grant applications as part of their mandate and have almost exclusive access to the officials. They then prepare the work tenders and magically their buddies in the construction sector get the contract. But this is all academic as its also old ground covered by the Charbonneau inquiry. I understand having a town waterline as backup but fear the cost of installation and operation will fall entirely on us as they have told the Birchill people when they sought sewer hookups.

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  19. I need a history lesson. How did the Rigaud water line end up so far in Hudson.. or as they call.. point de la raquette.. this is part of the story I don’t have. Was it at request of the town of Hudson?

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  20. I think that Raquette well and waterline is extremely old , maybe 100 years. It was there when my grandfather bought and built a summer house in 1918. So, long before amalgamation or probably legal municipal entities abounded. It might have been privately installed and run for a long time , Kevin. That would be a bit of a guess.

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  21. Here are my tax bills:
    2013
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKb0hIeGY2Sl83X2M/view?usp=sharing
    2014
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKeGVob3RkYjBVV0k/view?usp=sharing
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKOHhKZWVNUFRYVzg/view?usp=sharing
    2015
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKUkhDX0NxY3NoY3c/view?usp=sharing
    2016
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKWUN5ZjFnRThfNGs/view?usp=sharing

    Excel spreadsheet to calculate tax and tax increases:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKUUNJSUhMY3FoQjg/view?usp=sharing

    In my case (municipal water/ no sewage/ additional use):
    Year Tax Increase
    2013 $3,669.80
    2014 $3,595.67 -2.02% -$74.13
    2015 $3,874.10 7.74% $278.43
    2016 $4,208.07 8.62% $333.97
    2017 $4,587.47 9.02% $379.40 (assuming downloads are included in general property rate)

    I have all the bylaws and can provide them
    Link to Annex A (water and sewage sector) (black and white and better version)
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKU2F2YzJIRTQ1V1k/view?usp=sharing
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0Ms4v5GClKbHlMZTNERWZoeFU/view?usp=sharing

    Information regarding our numerous loan bylaws passed during Mrs. Villandre’s time is available here:

    http://www.mamot.gouv.qc.ca/ministere/acces-a-linformation/2016-059-liste-des-reglements-demprunts-de-la-ville-de-hudson/

    http://www.mamot.gouv.qc.ca/ministere/acces-a-linformation/2016-058-renseignements-relatifs-aux-reglements-demprunt-de-la-ville-de-hudson/

    Also bear in mind that Mrs. Villandre never capitalize any loan nor created a sinking fund (required by Art 547 C.ities and Town Act )

    Cities and Town Act:

    547. The by-law ordering a loan must also provide, in accordance with the following rules, for the expense incurred for interest and for the establishment of a sinking fund.
    The sinking fund may be established, either by means of a special tax imposed by the by-law and levied annually until the expiry of the term of the loan upon the taxable immovable property in the territory of the municipality or upon the immovable property of owners or occupants liable for the payment of the loan, or by annually setting aside for that purpose a portion of the general revenues of the municipality. In both instances, the sum paid each year into the sinking fund must be sufficient to yield, with compound interest thereon at the rate of 3.5% per annum, the capital to be paid at maturity.

    See Art 547 and s. at http://www.canlii.org/en/qc/laws/stat/cqlr-c-c-19/latest/cqlr-c-c-19.html

    There seem to be some confusion between debt reimbursement, property tax and tarification. I could do a Municipal Tax 101 presentation if anyone is interested.

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