Holdco is the holding company for Lakefront Utilities and Lakefront Utility Services Inc. which provide water and electricity to Cobourg and is owned by the Towns of Cobourg (most shares) and Cramahe (one share). Although Holdco issued annual reports in 2017 and 2016 for the previous years, these reports have minimal financial information. It may be possible to obtain their financial reports but they do not make it easy and I have not yet seen a report for 2017. Personally, I have not been able to find any Holdco Financial reports online. In addition, they have had esoteric battles with the Cobourg Taxpayers Association (CTA) over details of their activity. But they do pay a dividend to Cobourg each year – the evidence for that is that this mysterious dividend is cited as a funding source for projects that are not budgeted.
Although Holdco items do appear in Cobourg’s budget, there is no detail provided. Because of this lack of transparency, it has become an issue with the council – see what candidates say about this below.
One of the projects that Holdco (or rather subsidiary Lakefront Utility Services Inc LUSI) has recently initiated is a joint venture with other companies to put Solar panels on the roof of the Venture 13 building. As a separate company, they went into this project without consulting the public then obtained an agreement from the Town that they would buy the electricity they produced over a 25 year period at a fixed rate. At right is a picture of Dereck Paul, President & CEO of Lakefront Utility Services Inc presenting this project at the Venture 13 opening ceremony. Without Holdco financial data – we will never know if Doug Ford’s actions on the Green Energy act and Hydro rates will impact this contract. More on the project in the link below.
Note that candidates were asked to keep their answers to be no longer than about 40 words (averaged across all answers) but some went over that limit. As a result, their answers are abbreviated. A big thank you to those who respected my request.
|John Henderson (acclaimed)||
Holdco is part of Cobourg’s Holding’s Inc. It is defined as an Independent Board under the OBCA (Ontario Business Corporation Act) and The Electricity Act. The mayor traditionally sits as a member of this Board to ensure open dialogue remains between the Town Council, CAO (Mr. Peacock) and Mr. Dereck Paul, President. Holdco Inc. has completed Annual Consolidated Reports that reflect its income statement over the period from 2014-2017 which are in the public domain. The Annual Report is already made public.
If the question is asking for more finances to be released to the public beyond the Consolidated Report, then I am open to having discussions with members of the new Council, Stephen Peacock: CAO Town of Cobourg and Dereck Paul, President. I would want to ensure that with this further release of finances that all personal information would be protected under established privacy standards. [Revised 3 Oct 2018]
|Randy Curtis||It is my understanding that the Holdco financial summary information is available online. Additional detailed financial information can be obtained from Holdco if requested. I believe access and disclosure of annual financial statements should be public.|
Examine the legal structure of Holdco, and if the 99% of public ownership allows the finances to be made public, then yes they should be.
I believe that public assets held and/or owned by public entities should be made publicly available.
|Aaron Burchat||I support Holdco finances being made public. I believe this should be done as an Annual General Meeting that the board can host for the public as an update on how our reserves have fared the previous year, and what the expectations are for the following year.|
I believe all town owned company finances should be made public. After all, the tax payers of Cobourg own it
Yes, this is about good financial stewardship. Placing this information in the public domain would increase oversight, transparency and accountability. Residents need to know that their taxes are being spent efficiently and effectively, giving them good value for money.
|Brian Darling||No, because of legalities. All utility companies are independent and run by a board that is governed by Ontario Energy Board regulations and are given that mandate by the Province. Holdco does provide an annual report and the interest and dividend annual amounts are public information and the data showing where these amounts are spent is publicly shared at the annual Town of Cobourg budget meetings.|
|Karl Vom Dorff||Yes. Should Holdco be unable to meet their financial obligations through operations or via poor management, there’s always the possibility taxes could be raised to make up the difference. Releasing statements may increase accountability and allow Cobourg residents to keep Holdco’s financials under a watchful eye. A similar situation occurred in North Bay. By Order MO-3170, the Information and Privacy Commissioner forced North Bay Hydro Holdings Ltd. to release their financial statements. In North Bay’s case, disclosure set a legal precedent Holdco can’t ignore. [Karl kept within average word limit – other answers were short]|
Yes. I support public ownership of our utility companies and believe Holdco may need to improve communication with all its shareholders including more detailed public reports.
|Johnny Percolides||Absolutely they should be made public, why are they not? It has been very insulting to the tax payers for many years that previous Council members have allowed this and that they have not been transparent with this issue.|
Note: Candidates listed in last name alphabetical order.
The next question to be answered is Should the Town buy the Park Theatre?
NEWS Update: There will be an additional all candidates meeting on October 12 sponsored by Sustainable Cobourg.
- Municipal Election Page with comprehensive information about all the candidates in the upcoming election. Includes bios, campaign policies, web sites etc. Also includes how to vote and questions for candidates.
- Holdco Releases Annual Report – 6 July 2017 – covers 2016
- Solar Panels at Venture 13 explained – 30 May 2018 – includes some clarification of what exactly Holdco Companies do