May 23, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Last-minute adoption of Sherbrooke's swimming pool tax sparks fierce clashes between elected officials

Last-minute adoption of Sherbrooke's swimming pool tax sparks fierce clashes between elected officials

The councilor himself admitted that he bears the burden of settling the debate as seven other independent elected officials stood against the move, which was backed by seven elected officials in Sherbrooke Citoyen, including Mayor Evelyn Beaudin. Councilor Laure Letarte-Lavoie came to buy scales with her newborn and also needed to sit on the council.

“I was caught between a tree and a bark,” Ms. Berthold testified. Although she chooses to “imagine the commitment [qu’elle avait] “taken up during the budget”, she criticized the progress of the file where provisions of the tax came after the budget process and admitted that she found it “unfair” in its current form.

His closing remarks revealed that the matter had caused serious rifts in the executive committee, to the point of prompting his resignation.

Other Conflicts

During the public session, Councilor Nancy Robichaud called for this close vote. The tone also turned harsher when Letarte-Lavoie commented. Seeking to point out the “white elephant in the room”, Ms. Robichaud responded to Mayor Beaudin's comment, Ms. Letarte-Lavoie felt it was “legitimate” to leave before the end of the session because of his family circumstances. “Honestly, it is very normal for a mother with a one-month-old baby to stay at home with her baby. […] We will see what the strength of one party can do,” said Ms. Robichaud expressed strong reactions in the room.

She later indicated that she took responsibility for her comments, which were aimed at insisting that the adviser had changed because of a “crucial vote” that her party was “fearful of losing”.

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Mayor Beaudin later responded, “I hope we never have to repeat the situation like we saw this evening,” also describing some of the comments made at the end of the session as “disgusting.” “Can we respect each other?” she exclaimed.

However, elected officials, such as Marc Denault, blamed her for “disrespecting” some colleagues. Annie Godbout went so far as to accuse the mayor of “bullying elected officials.” She also said she was “moved” to hear Ms Beaudin speak out against colleagues who voted in favor of the budget and the swimming pool tax. The mayor specifically ruled that such a gesture “sends a very negative message to the administration”.

“There is a lot of content in the budget. […] We cannot agree 100%,” said Ms. Godbout defended.

“Budget is total,” Ms. Letarte Lavoie argued, pointing to the necessary search for new revenues and suggesting that the direction on this tax has always been clear. “No wonder,” she said.

Legitimate or Illegal Tax?

Independent consultant Christelle Lefevre indicated that she would have been in favor of a “true eco-economic measure” but ruled that the current measure does not encourage change in behaviour.

The $80 requirement isn't “such a significant burden” for pool owners who already consider the costs associated with this property, Fernanda Luz argued. “A bucket of chlorine costs $80,” she used as an example.

There are still many “young families” with swimming pools who use them as a much-needed cooling center for their children, Councilor Claude Charron pointed out.

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Mark Denault recalled that Sherbrooke Citoen made a commitment to keep property tax increases at 3%. He also pointed out that the entire amount collected through this tax would be used to pay for departure bonuses for human resource problems that arose during the mandate.

An option aimed at swimming pool owners, however, “distributes the burden differently [fiscal]» Than a property tax, argues Genevieve La Roche.

In the context of a severe housing crisis, a higher tax rate will affect renters more.

Buildings with six or more dwellings have experienced higher growth than single-family homes, which Paul Gingues raised to explain the volatility. Like his colleague Denault, he pointed out that he did not promise for 3%.

Nancy Robichaud and Hélène Dauphinais recalled that proposals were submitted to the last budget to avoid new taxes. It's not a question of cuts, Ms. Robichaud emphasized, however, the desire to “prioritize services.”

Rhys Kibonge recalled that if taxes are unpopular, “citizens will not be happy when services are lacking” and the amount of tax revenue will be repeated, which is not insignificant.

Questioning as many different methods of application, Ms. Dauphinais concluded that the tax was “purely random” and had “no logic”.

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