You have to give Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin credit – the initial budget requests by staff were well over her 1.9% target but the draft budget being presented for approval is very close to the target. I also appreciate the clarity in the numbers – a great job by Treasurer Ian Davey. You have to look at the numbers closely – actual expenditures excluding Police are 4.4% higher but an increase in expected revenue brings that down to 3.8%. Then add the Police budget of $6.3M with a small 1.09% increase and include $240K of additional tax revenue because of Town growth (more taxable properties) and the total Operating budget proposed for 2020 comes to $24,262,417 or 2% over the 2019 budget of $23,985,529. But let’s look at the details – who were the spenders and who cut back? And what can we learn about what will get done in 2020?
Major budget items (over $1M)
|Dept||2019 Budget||2020 request||%||Responsibilities|
|General Govt.||$3.31M||$3.38M||2.3%||Mayor, Clerk, Vic Hall|
|Protection – other||$3.54M||$3.592||1.5%||Fire and Bylaws|
|Public Works||$4.3M||$4.39M||2.1%||Roads, sewers, transit|
|Parks & Rec||$3.56M||$3.87M||8.8%||Parks, Marina, CCC|
|Culture and Community||$1.67M||$1.82M||8.9%||AGN, Concert Hall, Grants, Library, Special Events|
The two departments with big increases are Parks & Rec and Culture and Community so let’s look at them more closely. The first thing to note is that the Community grants budget is only asking for $50K – right on target. However, the draft budget has no indication which organizations will be missing out (see this article for a list of requests)
Parks and Recreation
The big jump is the Cobourg Community Centre (CCC) – the 2019 budget expenses were $2.33M and the requested 2020 expenses are $2.64M for an increase of 13.1%. Revenue will increase from $1.35M to $1.4M (4.1%). Combining these, the request for 2020 is a net expense budget of $1.24M compared to the 2019 budget of $985K making a total increase of 25.4%. Only one other cost is less – the closed Memorial arena but that only saves $85K. Parks operating costs (mostly salaries, a 2% increase) goes from $2.15M to $2.23M (3.9%). The increase beyond the payroll costs is because of a collection of minor items that add up. The Marina and campground are shown as break even. So we can blame the CCC for most of the increase and that is primarily because of increased payroll costs no doubt because additional staff are planned or have already been hired.
Culture and Community
Looking at the requests from this department, notable are:
Although not a really large amount, the list of planned special events and their 2020 budgets are interesting:
|Event||2019 Budget||2020 Budget|
|Movies in the Park||$5,500||$5,500|
|Canada Day Celebrations||$26,000||$27,000|
|Family Day in Cobourg||$1,000||$1,000|
|2020 Special Event||$30,000||$25,000|
|* Transportation – Community Events||$3,500|
|* Port-a-Potties – Community Events||$3,500|
|* Garbage Removal – Community Events||$16,000|
* New for 2020
The rest of the special events expenses were attributed to payroll ($242K) and miscellaneous expenses ($15K). Expected revenue for these events was budgeted for $67.5K in 2019 and $63K in 2020. There is no word on what the big special event will be in 2020.
If nothing is trimmed (or added), the average taxpayer in Cobourg will have an increased tax bill of 2%.
But that’s operating budget – let’s now look at Capital projects planned – at least in the draft budget.
My choices – for a full list see Capital projects on Town’s web site – link below.
|Sidewalk Construction – per priority policy||$200K|
|Sandstone Work Victoria Hall Entrance||$270K|
|Matthew Street Reconstruction $820K – net $140K after grants||$140K|
|Kerr Street Extension (Division to D’Arcy) $2.72 – net $2.1M after grants||$2.1M|
|Terry Fox Storm Water Management Pond Rehabilitation||$350K|
|Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation||$1M|
|Street Light Replacement Program||$355K|
|Cooey Park Development||$100K|
|Water Bottle Filling Stations (2 each year)||$24K|
|Adult Fitness Park $90K – net cost to Town $25K||$25K|
|Waterfront Plan East Pier – design, engineering, consultation||$275K|
|Security gates for docks||$60K|
|Electrical System upgrades||$310K|
|Campground improvements – design, engineering, consultation||$127K|
|Several Waterfront projects – mostly engineering designs for repairs and improvements.||$313K|
Not included is any money for landscaping at the CCC.
Capital dollars obviously have to be found from somewhere. My understanding is that a relatively small amount is included in the operating budget ($424K in 2020) and the rest becomes long term debt ($651K per year).
The above excludes Operational and Capital Costs for sewers which are covered by revenue from water bills and are managed separately.
The draft budgets are now online for public comment – see the links below.
- Draft Budget documents on Town web site – Includes provision for citizens to provide feedback.
- Engage Cobourg Budget Discussion
Note. This article quotes dollar amounts rounded to 3 significant figures. The percentage changes resulting are quoted from the full budget which calculate percentages based on the full numbers in the draft budget.