How the municipal budget is prepared and adopted

Last updated December 22, 2021
Reading time: 2 min

The budget presents all the expenditures and revenues that enable Montréal to provide services to the population, maintain its infrastructures and carry out new projects. Find out how it’s created.

The budget sets out the city’s financial projections for one fiscal year (12-month period). In Québec, the municipal fiscal year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31.

The budget is adopted by your elected representatives. It includes two types of expenditures:

  • Operating expenses
  • Capital investments

The operating budget

The operating budget projects Montréal’s current expenses for one year. Public security, transportation, water distribution and treatment, waste collection and recycling, cultural activities, park maintenance: many day-to-day services are funded by the operating budget.

In Québec, municipalities must present a balanced operating budget, meaning that expenditures must equal anticipated revenues, without resorting to borrowing. Operating expenses are primarily funded by taxes and other revenues collected by the city.

If Montréal were a family, all the expenses for groceries, electricity and home maintenance would be included in its operating budget.

The ten-year capital works program

The ten-year capital works program (in French, the Programme décennal d’immobilisations or PDI) includes a wide range of capital projects and programs that the city intends to undertake or complete over the next 10 years. These investments are used to maintain municipal infrastructures, such as road and water main repairs, and to undertake new projects, like building a new library or bike path.

These investments are financed through various sources such as government grants and long-term borrowing.

If Montréal were a family, all planned expenses related to purchasing a car or a house would be presented in its PDI.

How is the budget prepared?

The budget preparation process takes several months.

Pre-budget consultation

The pre-budget consultation usually takes place in April and May. It allows Montrealers and organizations to express their preferences on the city’s budgetary principles.

There are many ways to take part, including online questionnaires, briefs and written opinions. Hearings where citizens can ask questions and make submissions also take place. The various opinions expressed are analyzed by a standing committee (the Commission sur les finances et l’administration or CFA).

Committee members make recommendations to the executive committee that guide the development of the budget.

Budget development

In June, the city informs the departments and boroughs of the amounts available to them for the following year. Each unit then prepares its respective budget during the summer. Final decisions to balance the budget are made in September and October.

Adoption of the budget

This usually takes place in November and December. When the budget is ready, the executive committee presents it to the municipal council. Then the CFA studies it for about two weeks and makes recommendations. The budget is then presented to the municipal council and the agglomeration council for adoption.

Annual Financial Report

Once the budget is adopted, departments and boroughs can allocate the resources needed to provide services to the public and carry out planned projects.

At the end of the fiscal year, the city prepares a report on its financial position and major achievements. This report is presented in two documents: the annual financial report and the statement of accounts. The publication of these documents concludes the fiscal year.