Pointe aux Trembles residents who were hit with an average $30,000 tax bill for roadwork on Delphis Delorme St. will find out in a few days whether they will have to pay or not. Twenty-five Delphis Delorme residents are being billed for $625,000 worth of work done in 2006 that no resident asked for and on a street that was already built. They received tax bills for the work two weeks ago ranging from $30,000 to $37,000. The city has amortized the payments over 20 years, and is charging 4.87 percent interest in 2008, which will more than double the amount paid for the residents.They have until March 11 to make their first payment, forcing some residents to take out a second mortgage, or threaten to sell their home rather than pay the bill.
At issue is whether the street, considered a temporary road by the Rivières des Prairies/Pointe aux Trembles borough until 12 new homes were built there after 2000, used to be an extension of Notre Dame St. E, which residents say had its initial infrastructure paid off long ago.
Before Monday night's city council meeting, borough mayor Cosmo Maciocia said he has asked local civil servants to clarify the matter by the end of the week.
"I canıt answer tonight, I'm waiting for an answer from our services, and the moment that I get a response Iıll give a clear answer," Maciocia said.
"We have to look at the file. There have been statements that itıs an extension of Notre Dame St. E, and itıs not certain that that's the case.
Iıll verify this, because there's been a lot of information thatıs been a little true, and some less true." During the meeting's question period, an angry Daniel Lefebvre, 59, produced documents, including an original Hydro Quebec bill from 1953 proving that Delphis Delorme was once part of Notre Dame.
"If Mr. Maciocia wanted proof, all he had to do was call me and I would have given it to him," he said. Lefebvre later complained that the district councillor, Nicolas Montmorency, was "nowhere to be found" after repeated calls made to his office. Montmorency said that he was unreachable for a variety of reasons. He said he was out of town last week, and his regular secretary is on sick leave, and the replacement did not have his new cellphone number that he changed at the beginning of the year.
He said he was only made aware of the dispute Monday morning from a colleague, but pledged to resolve the dispute quickly.
"All I have to say is that I have the citizens' needs at heart, and not the city, the city will not go bankrupt because of $625,000.... I will meet with the other councillors and resolve the issue between now and Thursday or Friday," he explained. Pointe aux Trembles borough councillor Suzanne Décarie said that she and a handful of Notre Dame residents successfully fought a similar situation in 1991 when they were hit with local improvement taxes of between $200 and $2,000. Décarie told the city council that she filed an emergency motion with the borough council last week to revoke the tax bills.
"I want that they revoke this tax bill, I donıt want these people to pay twice," she said, adding that she's "100 percent certain that it [Delphis Delorme St.] used to be Notre Dame." When Pierre Lafontaine received his local improvement tax bill on Feb. 13, he thought the city had revised the general property tax bill that he had received a few days earlier. It was only after consulting with neighbours that he realized that it was an additional bill.
"What improvements did they make to justify this amount?" he said, noting that the street was already in excellent condition.
Lafontaine asked Maciocia during the question period why residents of temporary roads in R.D.P. were consulted in November of last year prior to the commencement of renovation work, while Delphis Delorme residents were not. Maciocia responded that the streets in R.D.P. were no longer considered temporary after new housing was built there in recent years.
"According to the information I have, we can charge taxes only after 80 percent of the road is developed," he said.
But Lafontaine said afterwards that he wasnıt satisfied with Maciociaıs response and suggested that the residents may sue the city if they are forced to pay the bill. "If we accept that they do this to us, then they can do it to anyone in Montreal," he said.