Public Input on County Budget

After really bad public participation in County budget open houses in 2017 and 2018 (approx. 11 and 5 attendees respectively), this year the County elected to go online only.  The results of 374 responses were presented to County Council at their meeting on August 28.  Go to Links below to download the complete report – this post gives highlights.  Charts showing top issues are provided and other concerns are summarized. See also the three links to comments pages – it seems that people get quite vocal when they are offered a chance to give anonymous comments.

The first two questions were revealing – 53% were not at all familiar with the process the County uses to develop their budget and 31% were not at all familiar with the services the county provides.  This despite the fact that 32% of a Cobourg resident’s municipal tax bill goes to the County.  See the links below for a post explaining what the County does.

The question on satisfaction showed that a surprising number are unhappy with a number of services with the worst being the County’s performance providing affordable housing.

Satisfaction with service delivery

But preferences on long term financial priorities showed an emphasis on keeping taxes down and providing long term care.  It’s possibly relevant that the age categories represented were strongly skewed to 60 to 69.

Long Term Financial Priorities

When asked what were the most important issues, Housing/accommodation and Cost of living were at the top

Most Important Issues

Other Questions

A total of 10 questions were asked – a summary of responses to the other five is given here.

Question Response
Would you be willing to pay a further increase in your property taxes to maintain or expand levels of service? 50% NO – others willing to pay various amounts on top of planned increases.
Where do you live? 27% Cobourg,  25% Trent Hills,  Brighton 12%,  Port Hope 12%,  Hamilton 9%,  Alnwick/Haldimand 8%,  Cramahe 6%,  Not in Northumberland 1%
What is your age category? 0-20 0%,  20-29 4%,  30-39 12%,  40-49 11%,  50-59 24%,  60-69 29%,  70-79 19%,  80+ 1%
How do you identify? Female 58%,  Male 37%
How did you find out about the survey? Facebook 40%,  Online Media 25%,  Word of Mouth 12%,  Northumberland.ca 11%,  Newspaper 7%,  Other 5%

Of course we should remember that although 374 is a whole lot better than 5, it is still a whole lot less than the number of people in the county: 86,000 (~70,000 are old enough to vote).

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14 Comments
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Durka
29 August 2019 12:44 pm

Hopefully the results are taken with a grain of salt considering the demographic (older) that took the survey.

Dan
28 August 2019 5:53 pm

Most Important Issues:
1. Housing
2. Cost of Living

Meanwhile a whole building of tenants are being displaced to make room for yet more condos. And so the biggest problems in the town continue to get worse.

Jeffy
Reply to  Dan
29 August 2019 9:44 am

Where Dan?

Dan
Reply to  Jeffy
29 August 2019 3:35 pm

26 Spencer Street East, there’s a ‘Condos for Sale’ sign on the lawn, despite the building being full of tenants, and their units not actually being renovated until they are pushed out.

manfred s
Reply to  Dan
30 August 2019 1:34 pm

just curious, but how do you renovate with tenants still in the unit. Can you imagine the cost of clearing out a unit, accomodations for the tenants during renovations and the cost of moving them back in, and then having to charge a higher rent for the same unit to the same tenant to cover those costs, or, where would you find the money to do all of that for every unit…as I said, just curious. (oh, I didn t know about the renovation fund)

Dan
Reply to  manfred s
30 August 2019 2:15 pm

Well when the unit is sold to somebody who intends to live there, there’s no bringing people back to the same place. They also don’t have to find you accommodations during the renovation, they can do that OR give you three month’s rent.

And as for the cost, spending $20-30,000 to renovate a unit you then sell for $250,000 is not a losing proposition.

But that’s part of the problem, the owner, rather than evict the tenants to renovate (which obliges him to give 120 days notice, 3 months rent, and then gives the former tenant certain rights afterwards) he is instead trying to find every way, including many that are in violation of the RTA, to get everybody to technically leave “on their own” so he owes them no notice, no compensation, and they get no rights.

He’s also started listing units as “to be renovated” in an attempt to get them sold before the renovations (Since the obligation from him if the unit is merely sold as is first, and renovated after, drops notice from 120 days to 60, and compensation from 3 months to 1 month)

manfred s
Reply to  Dan
31 August 2019 12:20 pm

from a nuts’n’bolts, pragmatic, unemotional perspective, I’d venture to say that anyone who builds, owns or acquires a rental property does so with one purpose, to realize a return on their investment and not necessarily to provide living spaces. I’d also venture to say that anyone who rents a living space has themselves decided on which space to rent, notwithstanding that their possible choices may be to some extent limited at any time. Putting these two groups, with little in common, together, makes for a challenging situation in which neither gets all they want but much or some of what they need. Both have risks and both have returns, and while those are on different levels, they are part of the scenario, and the rules are there from the beginning, including remedies for broken rules. This case seems to fall into this category and seems to be not particularly outrageous in its dilemmas. But as I said, that’s from a hard nosed facts based perspective. I’m still curious as to your solution that would address the issues equitable to both sides, given the reasons why both sides are invested at all. For the record, I’ve been a renter, a landlord… Read more »

Dan
Reply to  manfred s
31 August 2019 2:01 pm

His clearly stated goal is “vacate the units, renovate them, sell them and profit thereby.” So my equitable solution is “Issue all tenants an N13 eviction notice for eviction due to renovations, which includes 120 days notice, 3 months rent in compensation, and when the unit is purchased, the tenant having the right to match the sale price and buy the unit themselves” Had he done that when he first announced the units were for sale, the whole building would now be vacant, and he could be moving much more quickly towards realizing the huge profits he will be obtaining from the sale of the units, and the tenants would have been appropriately compensated for the upheaval. I estimate that the 3 months compensation to all tenants would have amounted to about $43,000 dollars. He’s already set to be spending something on the order of $450,000 on renovations, with a gross revenue from the sales of about $4,300,000 dollars. Obviously less all the various fees, taxes and commissions on those sales he pockets well under the 4.3 million he’ll be grossing, but he will personally keep several million dollars, making the refusal to put out a whole $43,000 to actually… Read more »

gerinator
Reply to  Dan
31 August 2019 2:05 pm

Can you name the owner? What is RTA?? I assume the ‘A’ is for Association, do they have any teeth? Further the “many that are in violation..” suggests that these violations are known to you and current tenants. Should they not be reported and perhaps made public?

Dan
Reply to  gerinator
31 August 2019 2:09 pm

The RTA is the Residential Tenancies Act which governs the relationship between landlords and tenants.

The teeth they have are tribunal services to adjudicate disputes and occasionally assess penalties.

The owner/landlord is Rodger Cooper, the real estate agent overseeing the sales is Douglas Copeland.

Those of us who actually have the time, resources, and willingness to fight are doing so. I have a tribunal hearing coming up specifically centered around these violations.

I would love to sit down with a news outlet and detail the full scope of everything that has happened. I’ve been keeping very comprehensive notes and timeline, and documents.

gerinator
Reply to  Dan
1 September 2019 3:49 pm

Thanks Dan. Reach out to Pete Fisher. I find him to be a good reporter. Certainly enjoyed his articles in the past. Especially his articles on prior Councils meetings.

Shirley
Reply to  Dan
1 September 2019 10:02 pm

Actually it’s Nathan Copeland that’s the real estate agent for 26 Spencer Street East as I’m also one of the tenants affected. Up until last Tuesday August 27th, posting the empty units for sale but now they’re listing occupied units.

I think we definitely need to take this to the Northumberland News and let people know what’s going on.

Dan
Reply to  Shirley
2 September 2019 2:56 am

Oops, wrong first name. We should be so lucky to have Douglas Coupland hanging around.