At the first meeting of the new Northumberland County Council on December 12, newly elected Mayors will be on board. As well as Cobourg’s John Henderson, others on Council will be: William Cane (Hamilton – new), Robert Crate (Trent Hills), John Logel (Alnwick-Haldimand), Mandy Martin (Cramahe – new), Brian Ostrander (Brighton – new), Robert Sanderson (Port Hope). They will be asked to receive the budget for 2019 including the county’s levy increase – that’s a polite name for tax increase. In addition to the 2019 budget, they will also see a 10 year Financial plan showing expected budgets to 2028. The next County Council meeting will be on January 30 and it’s expected to get approved then – that’s months ahead of Cobourg. As well as the budget, another significant change will be to reduce the “weight” of votes by Hamilton.
As long as nothing major changes, the County’s tax increase for 2019 through 2018 will be 2.5% + 0.27%. The add-on was decided a couple of years back and provides for a catchup on infrastructure spending. The 2.5% covers inflation. The long explanation (see links below) speaks to some years of volatility when costs were downloaded from the Province but that there should be stability in future.
The County attempted to get the public interested with public budget meetings in June but attendance and participation were pathetic. That’s my description – CFO Glenn Dees called it “very limited”. Five came to the open house and one completed the online survey.
Glenn says that debt is limited because it’s only used for major one-time projects such as the Bridge in Campbellford and the Golden Plough Lodge rebuild. Otherwise Capital comes from revenue. Most Capital expenditure is on roads (59%) with number two being waste (14%).
Below are a couple of graphics that show where the revenue comes from – only half comes from direct taxes – and where it is spent. Wages look high but that’s because “many services provided by the County are labour intensive such as long term care and paramedics”.
The total budget for 2019 is $114.7M with 15% of that going to Capital projects. The debt level at the end on 2019 is expected to be $13.2M which, on a per taxpayer basis, is about a quarter of the average of other municipalities.
Weighted votes at County council
Most people probably don’t know that voting at County Council meetings is structured to give more weight to the larger municipalities. It’s only in effect for recorded votes which are generally used for significant or contentious decisions. As the smallest municipality, Cramahe gets 2 votes and the others get more based on their population in the most recent census. Subject to a vote of approval, the votes allocated to Hamilton will be reduced from 4 to 3 because of shifts in population – see the following table.
|Member Municipality||2016 Census Population||% of Population||Assignment of Votes||Proposed Weighted
Votes for 2018