At the County Council meeting on 18 November, the focus will likely be on the election of a new warden for 2020 but also on the agenda is a report from Glenn Dees, the County’s Director of Finance. With 44 pages, the report details the rationale for the County’s 2020 budget, how it is structured, how the money is spent and where it comes from. Although it has much less detail than Cobourg’s Draft budget (which has also just been released), it uses more graphics and is more user friendly in its explanations. It also shows a high concern for long term trends and viability. But their targeted levy increase was 3% and that is what is proposed for approval. Because of an increased tax base, the actual increase in the tax collected is 5%.
Let me try to simplify things.
|Dept Principal repayment||$1.5M|
|Net Change in Reserves||-$7.2M|
|Grants and Subsidies||$40.6M|
Note that “Other Revenue” includes money from Golden Plough Lodge (GPL) residents, bag tags and tipping fees, Social Housing rent etc.
But how is this allocated? Because some funds must be spent on certain things – e.g. the gas tax revenue must be spent on infrastructure – certain types of revenue are spent on particular things and that makes life (for the accountants) complicated. But that’s for them to worry about – I think the taxpayer is more interested in where does the money go; what is it spent on?
Staffing is high because “many services provided by the County are labour intensive such as long-term care and paramedics.” The cost of Social Services is not a big direct burden on local taxpayers since “a significant portion of these costs are flow-through dollars and are funded directly by the Province”. Contract includes “waste collection, engineering, auditing, legal, repairs and maintenance and a number of other specialized services.”
The biggest current Capital Expense is the Golden Plough Lodge (GPL) re-build and that will continue for a few years. When that’s finished, the new bridge at Campbellford will also be a big amount (~$125M).
(There’s more on the GPL Project here )
And of course as you would expect, roads comes next.
Department operational allocations
|Economic Development, Land Use Planning & Tourism||$4.3M|
|Golden Plough Lodge||$16.0M|
|Community, Social Services & Northumberland County Housing Corporation||$31.5M|
|Support Services & Corporate Departments (allocated to other departments)||–|
The County tax is about 32% of the total tax bill for a Cobourg taxpayer. At 3%, Glenn estimates that for 2020 for the median single-family home, the overall tax impact from the County increase will be about $29. County taxes are distributed across the member Municipalities with Cobourg taxpayers paying 24% of the Total.
Ten Year plan
Inflation is assumed to be 2.8% per year the 10 years so the target budget is for a 2.8% increase for operations and 2.8% + 0.5% (that is, 3.3%) for Capital (infrastructure).
Major Long Term Projects
|GPL redevelopment||$82M||2020 to 2022|
|Elgin Park redevelopment/intensification||2021|
|Implementation of the Housing Strategy – other (Feb 2019)||2022, 2025 & 2026|
|New Trent River Bridge||$125M||2025|
|Implementation of the Waste Master Plan (Feb 2014)|
|Implementation of the Transportation Master Plan|
|Social Housing repairs & maintenance needs|
|Consolidated works yard||2026|
Some (perhaps most) of the money for these projects will come (or has come) from the Provincial or Federal Governments.
All these projects mean that the County debt will rise from the current level of $20M to about $120M for 2022 onwards. However, Glenn says that this remains well within limits set by the Province.
Extra Long Term Estimates
For the next 50-60 years, the Asset Management plan estimates the following:
|Asset Type||Replacement Cost|
Unlike Cobourg’s, this draft budget is not published for public comment although the full report by Glenn Dees is available on the Agenda for the upcoming County Council meeting. He does a great job explaining the difficulties of putting it together – although not how priorities were decided. The only public input was from a very general online survey (see link below). It’s also notable that it comes directly from the Finance department – no Councillor seems to be assigned to overview it.
The budget is simply being presented at the coming meeting – it’s expected to be approved at the first meeting in the New year.
- Northumberland County 2020 Draft Budget and 10 year Financial plan
- Public Input on County Budget – 28 August 2019