Cobourg 2018 Budget Requests

Today, Cobourg Staff presented to Council their requests for the 2018 capital budget and staffing increases.  The meeting lasted over 3 hours and included considerable detail but below are highlights.   The total Capital amount requested is significantly higher than the amount likely to be approved but as chair John Henderson remarked “There are no decisions in this meeting”.   The amounts are proposed and subject to further deliberation (see schedule of ongoing meetings below).  If you wish to see the complete meeting but missed it being streamed at 1:00pm, also below is the video of the full meeting.  There were a few surprises but no totally new projects although there were snippets of information to be gleaned from comments by staff and Councillors.

There was no discussion of the source of funding although it would not all be by debenture (loans) – some would be paid by Development Charges and others by grants.  It was also implied that some would be deferred.  The next meeting will be to listen to the public at 2:30pm on October 25.

Capital Highlights

Below are items that are of interest (in my opinion).

Department 2018 Project Amount
Planning Official Plan Review – legal and expert costs for a possible 1 week of an OMB hearing $175K
Commercial and Economic Development Venture 13 – originally slated for move-in by end of 2017 – more here $1.6M
3 Pedestrian Counters (note 1) $27K
Legislative Services New chairs for Gallery. $20K
Information Technology (Note 2) Council Chambers hardwired sound system – current battery operated system is unreliable $20k
Public Buildings Second Street Firehall – Windows and Brick $180K
Market Building – restore all woodwork $60K
Victoria Square Construction – subject to a grant being received. $1.5M
Parks Donegan Park Washrooms $200K
Parks (with Public Works) Building 7 Roof repair (shared 50/50) $210K
Recreation and Culture (Notes 3 & 4) Cultural Master plan – expected to take 12 to 15 months – hopefully starting early 2018 $90K
Public Works Kerr Street – Division to D’Arcy $1.65M
Kerr Street – Division to Railway Spur $200K
Henry Street Rehabilitation $700K
Sidewalks $100K
MidTown Creek Ponding Area $1M
Division Street South Gateway Improvements (more here) $30K
Spencer Street reconstruction – Division to George $725K

Note 1: The DBIA wants to measure pedestrian traffic to see which events actually improve downtown traffic.  E.g. measurements in 2017 showed that the Rib-fest made no difference.

Note 2: A number of computer projects will use “hosted services” (otherwise known as the cloud) instead of owning and maintain expensive hardware.  It replaces capital costs with operating cost but is more reliable and does not require regular replacement.

Note 3: An unknown amount may be required for the Memorial and Jack Heenan Arenas – this is subject to condition assessments being done this fall

Note 4: Recreation and Culture presented $495K of projects for the waterfront that “may or may not be relevant” depending on the Waterfront study.  None related to the Trailer Park. For example, no tentative provision to implement the compromise solution of trees replacing trailers along the front. (More on this idea here). Seems that it’s been prejudged that the trailer park will stay untouched even though it should be a Council decision, not a consultant or Director decision.

Operational Budget

Ian Davey said that Provincial Bill 148, which is currently at second reading, will have a major impact on costs – not just because of the higher minimum wage but also because of other changes.  One possible impact is that fewer summer students would be hired.

But more evident this year was that all departments supplied the number of extra staff they wanted to hire.  The single biggest impact on any operational budget is the number of staff and since we can assume (for budgeting purposes) that the current number are completely utilized, only additional staff numbers are required for planning.

Department Change in Staff
Planning No extra staff
CAO No extra staff
General Government One summer/Coop student
Fire No extra staff
Library One Part Time for Community Outreach
Recreation and Culture Parks: 1 (9 mth contract for Casual Parks Attendant); 1 (* Stores Attendant);  1 (* Building Cleaner) – (* these shared with Public Works)
Recreation: Confirm 2 as permanent (No extra cost)
Waterfront Operations: 1 summer student
Culture: 1 Part-time Concert Hall support
Public Works Half of 2 fulltime as shared with Parks per above.
Manager of Engineering & Capital Works (see note below)
Total 2 Summer students; 3 part-time/contract; 2 Full time (or FTE).

Note: Barry Thrasher is due to retire in 2018 and then the new organization will do away with the Deputy Director of Public Works position and replace it with the Manager of Engineering & Capital Works.  This is because the current Public Works department is smaller now that Director Dean Hustwick is looking after Parks and Recreation.  The current Deputy Director (Laurie Wills) may become the new director – but this was not announced.  So the Manager of Engineering & Capital Works is not an addition.

Use the links below or watch the video of the full meeting. The only member of the public present was a representative of the CTA and the only media representative was yours truly.

Links

Below is video taken by Cobourg staff.  Their policy states that it is online for 3 months only so may disappear 12 Jan 2018. Stay tuned.

Click to Notify me of
gerinator

and another thing. Note 2 above effectively is a capital cost reduction – good, I like to hear that savings are being achieved, though no value (would have been helpful) is indicated. My concern here is Sarbanes Oxley (SO). It is my understanding that servers (aka the cloud) if located in the USofA are subject to SO and therefore available to USofA agencies of all types. Does anyone have knowledge, views on this? I intend to ask the comms folk in the Town.

gerinator

hmmm. I’m stumped. There are 8.5Million dollars on the table and nary a whine, whisper or view expressed. The 2nd largest ‘want’ is Venture 13 @1.62Million dollars (per the link provided). Its late and its primary function, objectives are already being provided by the County (not sure what the groups name is). The fact that it is planned (whether its delivered or not) for 2018 means that our taxes will go up (again whether its in-play or not).

cornbread

I just drove down the whole of Henry Street…not bad except for the very south end of this street…why don’t you have a look at Tremaine Street as the poor condition of this street will ruin the front suspension of your car at anything over 20 miles per hour.

Seems to me all the road improvements are in the downtown area…we pay taxes in the west end too

Mr Ahewsonator

You are quite right about Tremaine St. Now I believe whats going on underneath the roadway is also a factor

Mr Ahewsonator

Any ideas as to which ones would be deferred? Things like 20k for the chairs I would assume but thats just a drop in the bucket. All the big ticket items seem to have momentum.