Arrondissement d’Outremont and Service des finances

The owner of a semi-commercial building disputes the City’s billing method on the basis of a water meter that is applied in her case, since 2013. The citizen notes that several of the Borough’s non-residential buildings are not equipped with a water meter: other commercial owners therefore only pay the Special Water Tax, which the citizen also pays for, but are not billed as she is for their actual water consumption. She claims that this inequity unduly benefits the other non-residential owners, and particularly her business competitor.

The jurisprudence is clear: to be legal, a tax or charge must be applied uniformly, fairly and reasonably to all citizens subject to the regulation.

Yet, in Arrondissement d’Outremont, the regulation that provides billing on the basis of a water meter is clearly not uniformly applied. Indeed, whereas approximately 200 buildings were legally required to install a water meter, only 38 water meters had been installed.

Our office concludes that the Service des finances‘ explanations over this disparity do not comply with the applicable legal framework.

• The City agrees to reimburse the citizen the amounts that she was charged for on this basis (a little over $1,500.);

• Another citizen who had filed a similar complaint also receives a refund.

Incidentally, the City indicates that the installation of water meters in this Borough should be completed before 2018.

The OdM plans to intervene again in 2018 to ask the City to reimburse the other non-residential owners of Outremont who were billed on the basis of a water meter readings, in the same context. For us, such corrective action in equity is paramount.

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