Budget for 2018

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.

Community Grants

  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
Northumberland Orchestra $2,000 $4,000 $2,000
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
Marie Dressler $0 $6,200 $6,200
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
Oriana Singers $0 $3,000 $1,000
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
 Totals $49,451 $84,784 $40,684

* Did not meet Policy requirements

Snippets

  • 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.

Links

 

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gerinator

Must be an election year – Police costs are being held at 2017 levels and profits from the Police services is going to Venture 13 . Doubt this business model is sustainable. Also how does a discussion of the Budget morph into a pro/con over pot. Also regarding pot I sure hope, for the sake of residents there is significant investment made, by the new owners of the ‘Potted Plant’ on William to maintaining the current quality of the air – http://dftechnical.ca/examining-the-impact-of-marijuana-grow-ops-on-air-quality/

Wally Keeler

The complaints appear to be about mom and pop enterprises. They are NOT the Smith Falls industrial scale production and no complaints there of air pollution. The article appears to focus on grow-ops in individual residences.

If you examine the roster of jobs for the large scale production houses, it will include technicians, quality control monitors, plumbers, specialized humidifiers, etc. etc. When investors are putting in hundreds of millions of dollars to build a business, they wouldn’t be so stupid as to contaminate their product with mold. They are setting up a longterm business, not a quickie hustle.

gerinator

Yes you are correct. I guess I was focusing on the fact that there are environmental emissions/ pollutants at all. Unlike yourself I appear to be less trusting of the industrial sized, profit & share price, motivations. There are grow-op (regardless of size) environmental concerns across many areas, air, water, etc. However air borne pollutants (concentrations of gases and particles) will be difficult to measure, their potency (impact on the surrounding community) will be a subjective matter; and of course subject to local political/economic drivers.

Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf

Walter, the Cobourg Police Service has been preparing for this issue for quite sonetime. Over 70 % of all front line officers have achieved the international standard to detect drivers impaired by drugs. We are so far ahaead of other Services that one member is seconded full time to be Province training others, and another one of our members is seconded part-time. The issue of by-law enforcement is also way ahead. Deputy Mayor Henderson leads a By-Law review committee for the Town and this has been on our agenda for a year. Further, that reference of using Special Constables in lieu of officers in certain areas is in fact by-law enforcement. Please call me and set up an appointment we would be happy to outline all the great things we are doing.

Ben

So Paul, if cannabis has been illegal for decades why have you only started to do this now – hunting down the black market in an aggressive manner. Of course you need to be trained to get ‘high’ drivers but that’s only part of the issue. In order to maximise tax revenue the black market has to be destroyed. Present activities in this area haven’t done it, best of luck in trying now. But please don’t expect public support and the spending of more money just to enable the Province to make money on cannabis taxes

Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf

Well this sounds like a multi tiered debate about marijuana and associated revenue/costs. The issue of impaired driving by drug has been on police radar for many years, only the access to certified training has been very limited! Unfortunately too many Canadians form opinions about law enforcement by what they see or read from American sources. In relation to drug enforcement, the Cobourg Police Service has had and continues have a unit to execute warrants where illegal activities occur, specifically drug enforcement. In relation to a “black market” where there is demand, there will always be supply. I draw back to days of prohibition, and extend it taxis, and UBER. We always do and will continue to enforce all laws for the safety and security of all of us. Thanks for your thoughts!

Walter Luedtke

Hi Ben!
Ontario MJ officials have stated that they want to price pot low enough that it wipes out the illicit market, yet high enough that it discourages consumption among young people.
Think it will work?

Ben

Walter I am no expert like Bill Clinton I have never inhaled but observing the scene leads me to think a couple of things:
one is that after decades of acceptance most people who want to use cannabis do so already and purchase from their “guy”. So where will the demand for more cannabis come from?

Secondly the question of pricing; the black market will always be lower, that’s why the State wants to eliminate it, so the official price will always be higher hence the problem of demand and therefore a drop in expected tax revenue.

So many problems for the State to overcome.

Walter Luedtke

Thank Paul for the update and kudos for being pro-active on this challenge!
Your information proves the point that the AMO and many mayors have been making individually.
Namely, that the Feds and the Province must apportion a fair share of the new revenues to the municipalities.
Piling additional burdens on our regressive property tax system is not the way to go.

Walter Luedtke

“Zero increase of a Police budget was unheard of”.
Hmmmm.
Is the Police Department planning for the arrival of cannabis on the local scene?
“It is the local and community level that the legalization of cannabis will be felt most keenly. It will be our services that are called upon daily. It will be council members who will hear first about the ‘fit’ of cannabis in our communities,” so says Lynn Dollin. President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Legalizing cannabis will increase demand for policing, by-law enforcement, public health, fire inspections, training and new equipment.
Let’s hope that some of the new tax revenue from MJ sales will trickle down to the municipalities.

Deborah OConnor

Not too sure what you’re saying. Pot smokers have been here for decades. About the worst thing we do is play loud music. Many of the same people who gathered in Victoria Park in the late 60s are still around and still puffing.

There are no plans to open a store this year or next in the entire County. What changes are you expecting as of July 1st?

Walter Luedtke

Hi Deb!
Hah!
Will plant a real showy cannabis variety in my herb garden.
I like one called ‘bangi haze’ from TRUENORTH on-line.
Yeah!

Ben

Walter I can only see more police spending as a result of MJ legalisation if the State decides to order police services to crack down on the black market! Lots of luck on that one, how much money has been spent on cracking down in the last thirty years?
And with the legal price being higher than the black market how much tax revenue is going to be raised?

Wally Keeler

Amsterdam has many years of experience with pot cafes. Pot will be forbidden to smoke in public spaces, nor in apartment buildings nor condo buildings neither in old age housing. Where will the seniors smoke their medicine?

Frenchy

Good question.
Where do seniors smoke their medicine in Amsterdam?

Wally Keeler

At their local coffee/pot shop.
There are more than 600 coffeeshops in the Netherlands, of which about 220 operate in Amsterdam.
https://awesomeamsterdam.com/guide-to-coffeeshops-in-amsterdam/

Ewok

Medicinal users aren’t limited to smoking – there are concentrates, edibles, pills, inhalers, vaporizers, creams and eye drops….many options other than smoking.

Wally Keeler
Ewok

LOL – once cannabis is available legally, you can simply google your own recipes….