Cobourg Council made few changes to the draft 2018 budget at the open budget review on January 18. That indicates it met the goal of a 1.5% tax increase and that Council generally agreed with it. The only people watching the meeting in the Council chamber were two media reps – no citizens showed up although it was streamed via You Tube. The initial request from staff would have meant a 3.3% tax increase but John Henderson and coordinators managed to trim or defer enough costs to meet the target. The Police were able to keep their increase to zero – no change from 2017 – the Municipal grants applications were trimmed and a few other minor changes were made. There were also a few comments made about some items of interest.
The reasons for the Police control of budget were:
- Management of Overtime – this was $100K in 2017 compared to $300k earlier.
- There was a big benefit from the Police Services business – Gross revenue for 2017 was $2M, expenses were $1M with a profit of $1M. This profit goes towards their investment in Venture 13 and some other capital items. The Capital expense paid by the Town to the Police will be $75K compared to $100K last year.
- Use of lower paid Special Constables for various duties in place of fully trained regular Police Officers.
John Henderson remarked that a “zero increase of a Police budget was unheard of”.
There were a good number of questions from Councillors but apart from line by line approval of Municipal Grants, there were few other changes.
|2017 approved||2018 requested||Approved|
|Cobourg & District Community Care||$2,000||$2,000||$2,000|
|Cobourg Museum Foundation – Property Taxes||$3,000||$3,000||$3,000|
|Cobourg Museum Foundation – Capital Grant||$4,500||$4,500||$4,500|
|Victoria Hall Volunteers||$7,500||$5,000||$5,000|
|Northumberland Senior Games||$0||$300||$300|
|Legion – Education Taxes||$1,250||$1,100||$1,100|
|Victorian Operetta Society||$2,600||$5,000||$3,000|
|Cornerstone Grant||$0||$2,000||No *|
|Art Gallery||$20,000||$0||see above|
|Cobourg Ecology Garden||$1,929||$2,000||$2,500|
|Cobourg Community Garden Group||$700||$600||No|
|Cobourg Highland Games – Parking||$0||parking||No *|
|Lions Club of Cobourg||$0||$30,000||No *|
|Northumberland 89.7 FM||$3,000||$4,000||$0 see above|
|Cobourg & District Historical Society||$972||$1,084||$1,084|
|Cobourg Lawn Bowling Club (parking passes)||$0||$5,500||$5,500|
|Northumberland Film Sundays||$0||$500||No *|
|Children’s Foundation||$0||$500||No *|
|La Jeunesse Choirs||$0||$2,000||$1,000|
|Go Green Together / Cycle Transitions – Rent||$0||unknown||Yes $TBD|
|Sound of The Next Generation||$0||$2,500||$2,500|
* Did not meet Policy requirements
- Animal control is struggling to have sustainable financing. They report that although dogs are licensed and owners pay a licence fees, cats are not licensed yet provide 75% of the work. Maybe cats should be licensed.
- Bylaw Enforcement has had an enforcement officer on contract for some time. That person will now be a full-time employee.
- The cost of the contentious Kerr Street layby is now in the 2018 budget.
- Gil Brocanier said that although not strictly required, there should be a public meeting when deciding on the location of a renovated/new Skateboard Park
- Because of a procedural snafu, the request by 89.7 FM for money to support their Music in the Park in the Bandshell ended up being denied. This despite an initial approval for a waiver of the Bandshell fee of $495. If they choose, they can apply separately with a presentation to Council.
- Hospice asked for a donation of $240K over 3 years starting in 2018. Instead Council wants to give $240K over 4 years starting in 2019.
- There is $90K in the budget for the Cultural Plan.
- Councillor Suzanne Séguin said that the “Art Gallery of Northumberland is in transition to being part of the Town”. The Town’s contribution to their budget will be $130K more in 2018. [This is similar to the way the Concert Band of Cobourg is managed].
- A new “Special Event” for Cobourg in 2018 (or rather series of events) will be events celebrating the Armistice of 1918. There is $50K in the budget for these events. There will be an announcement in the next few weeks.
- The CIP will once again have $150K in the budget although only $90K was spent in 2017. Mayor Gil Brocanier said that owners of properties downtown are reluctant to renovate their second floors because of the high cost; they may need to make a special presentation to Council for more money than available via the CIP program.
- The budget has new sections for the Harbour (separate from the Marina and Trailer Park) and Venture 13.
- There will be new Guides, Brochures, Videos and Ads to encourage Tourism which has the goal to increase “use of local assets and spending by our residents and increase visits and spending by our visitors”. The budget for this for 2018 (excluding payroll etc.) is $79,200.
- Brian Darling wants to keep the ball rolling when the Waterfront study is released. He wanted any project recommended to be acted on swiftly.
Although the tax increase will be slightly more than 1.5%, the budget will increase just over 2.2% with the extra coming from a growth in assessment (more people to tax!). This was managed despite the significant hit from the increase in the minimum wage. The budget was approved by the Council at their budget meeting but will need formal authorization at the special Council meeting after the COW meeting on January 29.
- Download the 2018 Preliminary (draft) budget documents on Town web site. Note that the documents give details on earlier years plus a description of what the money will be used for.
- Operating Budget (draft but very close to final) – Download from Cobourg Internet
- Capital Budget (draft but very close to final) – Download from Cobourg Internet