Budget Meeting Disappointment

There are two reasons to be disappointed with Tuesday’s budget session.  First, most departments asked for a whole lot more money than the Deputy Mayor’s target of an increase of just 0 to 1% and secondly, most of the presentations were about what had been achieved instead of how they were keeping their budget under control.  That is, they talked about why their department is important and presumably deserves a whole lot of money. Numbers were provided to Council that detailed what the money would be spent on but only a few numbers were included in presentations that could be downloaded by the public.  I guess it’s unrealistic to expect draft budgets to be made available online since they are more like wish lists.

Suzanne Seguin - File photo
Suzanne Seguin – File photo

The first session covered one third of the total with two more meetings, scheduled next Tuesday and Thursday. The meetings are chaired by Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin.

These Departments were covered:

  • Art Gallery of Northumberland
  • Cobourg Public Library
  • Economic Development
  • Venture 13
  • Planning and Development Services
  • General Government Services

Both Operational and Capital budgets were covered but there was very little Capital required by this group.

Despite the limitations (& disappointment), to an observer there was value in the snippets of information that came out – some of which were budget related but some not.

  1. The requested AGN budget for 2021 is $285K with the Town asked to provide $185K.  Although the presentation was light on budget information, Suzanne Séguin said that this is a $60K increase from 2020. And despite being called the Northumberland Art Gallery, the County is still not contributing.
  2. The Library wanted a 1.8% increase which is mostly due to a CUPE agreed salary increase.  To reduce the increase would mean fewer library hours and fewer hours for part-time employees.
  3. The main reason for a requested increase of 9.6% in the one person Economic Development Department is an extra $15K required for a Strategic Plan. Together with an Organization review, CAO Tracey Vaughan said that this would help decide on whether an Economic Development Director should be hired.
  4. When discussing the Venture 13 budget, Councillor Brian Darling wanted to know when the Police would stop getting “free rent” at the building. It seems that because they spent quite a bit on building improvements, they earned themselves the right to “free rent”.  The problem is that this has not been documented and it’s not defined how long this would continue. Tracey said that this issue was on her to-do list.
  5. Glenn McGlashon said that for the past year, he has been operating the Planning department with two vacancies despite a heavy work load. Therefore his 2021 budget would require a 12.4% increase to fill those vacancies. Separately (it seemed), he suggested a budget of $250K for subsidies for affordable housing using the recently approved Community Improvement Plan (CIP).
  6. In response to a question, Treasurer Ian Davey said that currently MPAC is predicting a growth factor for Cobourg for 2021 of less than 1 %. If it’s 1%, this means that the Town’s budget can increase by 1% and the levy (tax increase) would be 0%. That is, growth would provide the extra budget dollars. MPAC will provide a firm figure in time for the final draft budget on December 22.
  7. When discussing payroll costs, Ian Davey mentioned that benefits for full time employees are at approx. 30% but that level is expected to go up.  (That is, the benefits cost approx. 30% of salaries).
  8. Several presenters mentioned the Service Delivery review but it did not affect their budgets since they are waiting for Tracey’s Implementation plan due in January.  Because the review said Cobourg’s user fees were low, a study will be done to determine what they should be.

The final draft budget will be released to the public for comment on December 22. Meanwhile there are two more sessions for the other five departments.

The Town has a survey that accepts input on the budget; it’s open until December 14. Go here.

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Frenchy
19 December 2020 5:33 pm

Venture13.
Does anybody have any idea just how many jobs or businesses have been created or started in Cobourg as a result of us having Venture13?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Frenchy
19 December 2020 6:33 pm

Just a guess but I vote for zero viable businesses. Can anyone provide a list of successes that don’t depend on continuing taxpayer handouts?

Frenchy
Reply to  Ken Strauss
21 December 2020 1:21 pm

crickets

Liz Taylor
13 December 2020 7:00 pm

As Mr. Spock would say on the voting – very illogical. Tax reductions – you say you want them, union jobs you say you don’t – cost saving measures unread or voted against and for government union labour unchanged. You want all department budget submissions not evaluated for authenticity if over yet you complain about Planning and Vandyke and all current staff should be fired. I could go on but you complain my input too long yet others with just as long are read and voted on – very illogical. Hope there is hope for the Town of Cobourg when voting takes place.

Frenchy
Reply to  Liz Taylor
13 December 2020 9:40 pm

Liz, your input isn’t too long, it’s just too often.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Frenchy
14 December 2020 2:28 am

Well Frenchy this and the next topic brought up topics I have had experience with and the other with one dear to my heart. Not simple one liners. However I agree with you Frenchy – you may be glad to know you will be hearing less from me as I expect further topics won’t be as important to me as these two were. (I edited for spelling)

Good night Mrs. Calabash wherever you are!

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Informed
13 December 2020 11:35 am

If believe if there was more discussion on how to improve revenue for the Town instead of trying to keep wages stagnent and layoff people,we would be able to explore some good ideas. What about a feeder plant for GM Oshawa that plans a major investment over the next fews years? Lets get onto some new ideas. We are on the 401 corridor and right down the road. Lets spend some of those tourist dollars to show case the Town and bring investment! Lets grow the Town and HIRE as we grow?Its a win win.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Informed
13 December 2020 6:52 pm

Just so you know, the two largest and most successful endeavours in our town and county are agriculture and tourism. You can count on that remaining the case for the forseeable future.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 7:08 pm

Just so you know, the two largest and most successful endeavours in our town and county are agriculture and tourism. You can count on that remaining the case for the forseeable future.

Deborah, if true that is a pathetic “success” story! Both tourism and agriculture are almost entirely minimum wage jobs. We need to forget these lost causes and aim much higher!

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Informed
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 7:15 pm

Thats great Deborah but its not paying the bills. Most of the burden is placed on the ordinary citizen taxpayers. Let me ask you…should we continue to spend money to atttact people to use our free beach?

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Informed
13 December 2020 7:40 pm

YES! We certainly should. Our beach has been a major attraction for the last 170 years and that’s going to continue. We’re lucky to have this jewel in our town and should increase our efforts to welcome people here, as well as the west beach, which remains in its natural state.

Only a fool would believe there are no spin-off successes due to our beach and gorgeous Victoria Park. Together they are our best assets.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 9:29 pm

Deborah, thank you for your assessment of the intelligence of many Cobourgians. Could you please provide evidence for your assertion that there have been spin-off successes due to our beach and gorgeous Victoria Park that have benefited the average Cobourg resident? If not I think that everyone is owed an apology for your unsubstantiated derogatory comment.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 December 2020 10:48 pm

Please verify your assertion that I owe anyone an apology for having an opinion. Having lived here for 70 years or so surely I am entitled to have one. Now kindly buzz off.

Fact Checker
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 11:17 pm

Deborah,
The problem is that you present your information as fact rather than as your opinion. There is (may be) a huge difference between those two. Please support your “facts” with verifiable sources and/or analysis.

Perhaps your 12 year old grand daughter will help you do a Google search.

Last edited 1 month ago by Fact Checker
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 11:39 pm

Why do think that having lived here for 70 years gives you the right to call those who disagree with you “fools”? I’m waiting for your apology or facts to prove your assertion.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 9:48 am

An obvious sign that you do not have a position that can be defended by fact. When you can’t get your way, make a lot of noise, call people names a then tell everybody to go fly a kite.

I’d like to think that you are capable of making reasoned opinions rather than flippant remarks.

Last edited 1 month ago by Canuck Patriot
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
21 December 2020 12:01 am

“provide evidence for your assertion that there have been spin-off successes due to our beach and gorgeous Victoria Park that have
benefited the average Cobourg resident?

No doubt you want evidence of $$$ benefit. That is not without merit, however it is myopic. There have been countless spinoff successes, social spinoffs, cultural spinoffs, community bonding spinoffs. All of those spinoffs have benefited average Cobourg residents. Some of them are priceless. EG. Victoria Park hosts the Cenotaph where the local community bonds with a national bonding event. This annual event continues to bring out quite a beautiful crowd of patriots. A priceless success. There are many more community bonding events in Victoria Park/Beach that have considerable value not measured exclusively in terms of $$$.

Conor
Reply to  Informed
20 December 2020 4:08 pm

Deborah doesn’t owe you an apology for anything. You are obsessed with this “free beach” as if you own the beach yourself. She is right about the spin-off business as you will see next summer if Covid is still around. You will be crying out for tourists so much so you might even advertise the “free beach” as a drawing card

SW Buyer
Reply to  Conor
20 December 2020 5:33 pm

Conor,
You just don’t get it do you. Those who go to the beach do NOT spend much (if any) in the Town. They don’t go shopping downtown after lying on the beach all day. (the stores are likely closed anyway). This Cobourg myth has been disproved…ask any downtown merchant.
How much business do the tourists visiting the Whitby beach bring?

Informed
Reply to  Conor
21 December 2020 7:59 pm

I never asked for one Conor. Please apologize for your error😏

Fact Checker
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 11:05 pm

You wrote….” the two largest and most successful endeavours in our town and county are agriculture and tourism…”

Would you please share the source of your information

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Fact Checker
20 December 2020 2:47 pm

Do your own research, fact checker. Try living up to the name you’ve given yourself. It’s appalling to me the lack of respect men on here accord me, none of you would treat each other with such disdain. Apparently the lack of a penis is a fatal error on my part.

Frenchy
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 2:50 pm

Ooh, talk about a huge chip on your shoulder.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 5:39 pm

Deb, You’re the one making the claim. Support your statements with verifiable documentation and analysis…just like everyone else. Or state that it is your opinion that…….Then everyone will know the status of your claim and how much weight to give it.
You don’t get a pass due to your lack of a penis.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  SW Buyer
20 December 2020 6:08 pm
SW Buyer
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 6:47 pm

Deb,
The real deal?
What is your point?
This document is 108 pages long.
What part of it specifically supports your assertion that “… the two largest and most successful endeavours in our town and county are agriculture and tourism…”?

SW Buyer
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 6:43 pm

Deb,

You wrote….” the two largest and most successful endeavours in our town and county are agriculture and tourism…”

Specifically what in this link supports your assertion?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 6:42 pm

Your crudeness continues to be your achilles heel. Your lack of respect for anybody who wasn’t born here is sad (:

Merry Christmas from one human to another.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 7:44 pm

It’s appalling to me the lack of respect men on here accord me, none of you would treat each other with such disdain. Apparently the lack of a penis is a fatal error on my part.

Deborah, the respect accorded to you is unrelated your lack of a penis but from your unwillingness (inability?) to support your assertions. Your years in Cobourg are not a substitute for ability.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
20 December 2020 9:02 pm

Sorry, got distracted. I’ll get back to this tomorrow.

Frenchy
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 9:25 pm

step away from the bong

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 December 2020 11:38 pm

the two largest and most successful endeavours in our town and county are agriculture and tourism.

If this is not true, as several posit on this blog, then I wonder what two ARE the largest and most successful endeavors? What could they possibly be?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Wally Keeler
13 December 2020 11:44 pm

It is pathetic to laud providing minimum wage jobs as a success.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 December 2020 2:30 am

True, but what should we laud in Northumberland that provides high wage jobs? And employment security? Govt of course.

Informed
Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 December 2020 8:39 am

New business.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
14 December 2020 11:05 am

‘New business”

The fact that a business is new, does not mean that it provides high wage jobs and employment security, but even so any business is better than no business.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 December 2020 8:39 am

Yes, Wally, government jobs pay well, have great benefits and are unaffected by pandemics. Government jobs don’t create wealth but only take from the successful to enrich the government employee. Fortunately there are a few entrepreneurs in Northumberland who have built successful businesses that actually benefit our economy.

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 December 2020 8:53 am

Government employees ….even retired government employees living here typically have more discretionary income to spend and support local business. Entrepreneurs need customers and im sure they are happy to take dollars no matter where they come from.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 December 2020 12:13 pm

Government jobs don’t create wealth but only take from the successful to enrich the government employee.

I find that formula agreeable for the most part. Govt organized the building of the toll-free 401 by contracting asphalt companies, large equipment owners, concrete mixers, steel rebar for bridges, landscapers, etc. The result generated wealth for more than half a century along its length to this day.  

Fact Checker
Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 December 2020 1:26 am

Wally,
Specific businesses? enterprise category? define successful?

The largest employers in Northumberland County are: C&A (Texron), Belden, Northumberland County, NH Hospital, Cameco, School Board, Zircatec, Horizon Plastics, Weetabix

This data is somewhat dated (1997-2000), but is still generally valid
Many of these employers have top paying jobs.
Note that none of them are in agriculture or tourism.

http://www.northumberland.com/nep/northumberland_county_3.htm

Cobourg’s website:
Cobourg enjoys a diverse industrial base with industries manufacturing a wide variety of products from airport communication towers to foil laminated paper products. Our largest employers are in the plastics and food sectors like cereal made by Weetabix and composters to playground equipment by Horizon Plastics International. Companies such as Belden Canada Inc. and Lakeland Multitrade have called Cobourg their home for over 40 years.

https://www.cobourg.ca/en/business-and-development/Key-Industries.aspx

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Fact Checker
14 December 2020 8:23 am

The largest and most successful employer is govt. Succinct.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 December 2020 9:27 am

Well, largest anyway.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
14 December 2020 11:01 am

It is successful because it is expansionary. It is a growth industry. It is ubiquitous and there continues to be calls for more govt services.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 December 2020 8:46 am

Expansionary is an adjective.
But you’re right, government is certainly a growth industry and they do seem to be everywhere.
Even in second story windows of old post offices. 😉

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
15 December 2020 8:56 am

Successful is also an adjective.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
20 December 2020 2:49 pm

Thank you, Wally. These clowns will turn us into best friends before much longer.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 December 2020 10:53 pm

I love asserting that I am a born bred Cobourg boy because it sticks in the kraw of a few. Most important of all, Deb, we both have an experiential, historical relationship to Victoria Park & Beach. It was open, free and public. It was/is Cobourg’s most important educational institute. Generations of families and their children grew up in that park/beach. I recall large family reunions from 50-75 people, and the reunions of other families in the Park. It was community. We got to enjoy the Saturday Night Dance at The Pav. This was long before a curfew was established and other regulations left right centre that dampens spontaneity. Today one can see this education of Cobourg children as each summer, day care centres would send out caterpillars of children to the Park. That Park/beach is embedded deeply in the community dna of Cobourg. It has always been FREE and PUBLIC. That will continue to be the status quo of this Park/beach in Cobourg. But, against that, there are FOOLS who continue the wet dream of charging outsiders a fee to play in our beach with the ludicrous suggestion that Cobourg residents are paying a big heap of $$$$ for… Read more »

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 9:22 am

   I love asserting that I am a born bred Cobourg boy because it sticks in the kraw of a few.

I really doubt that that fact would stick in the kraw (sic) of anyone.
Speaking as an “import” (and chair of the MMBC) to our beautiful town, I’ll note that several of my friends are also “original Cobourgers”. I find that fact a little quirky (given today’s somewhat nomadic lifestyle), fun, interesting, unique and I hear the pride in their voices when they state that fact. I think it’s great and certainly a tribute to the town.
What my friends don’t think is that their opinions of, or experiences with Cobourg hold more weight than do mine.
On the other hand, you and a “very few” others, are under the false pretense that your memories are more memorable, experiences more meaningful and opinions more credible than us “imports” from away.
I also note that I, and others, have lived here for more years than you have Wally Keeler, but I’ll tell you right now, that I don’t think any of our opinions hold more water than do yours.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
21 December 2020 3:06 pm

When Deb comments, I believe her. I know her personally because she uses her name, a good sign of transparency and honesty. I know a bit about her character. So her comments about her personal experiences are believable.

Then on comes a pseudonym claiming that “several of my friends are also “original Cobourgers”.

The credibility of pseudonyms is questionable because of their lack of transparency. I do know that you have no respect for a Cobourg citizen’s privacy by publishing their govt account number.

I know your real name, Frenchy, but I have enough integrity to respect your privacy. And I will continue to do so

Last edited 1 month ago by Wally Keeler
Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 6:09 pm

Frenchy = Terry Robb.
If you think that gives me more credibility or that anybody needs to know that, there you go.
You didn’t respect my privacy enough to not broadcast my business name and denigrate my products. I’ve been a contributing taxpayer to Cobourg for 40 years and opened a business here in 1993 with which I have also contributed to the town.
You?
Do I have to name my friends for you to believe me? Will you check with them to confirm?
You have foolishly published your government account number on the web many more times than I have.
I have just responded to every point you made. If you decide to respond, please do the courtesy of doing the same.
Don’t deflect (as usual).

Last edited 1 month ago by Frenchy
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
21 December 2020 9:12 pm

It is MY government account number to do with as I please. You had no authority to publish that number. If you would do it to me, you could do it to others, as long as they are held in contempt as you hold me. You were vindictive with your supposed gotcha moment. You could have linked to it to prove your point, but nooooo, you had to publish it on someone else’ web site without their consent, nor my consent. Why would I trust you on anything after you did that while behind a pseudonym? You broadcast your business name for advertising reasons. That has nothing to do with violations of privacy. Consumers have the right to comment on anyone’s products. This soft drink is bland. That pizza is doughy. Those products are mediocre. I don’t know what this has to do with violating your privacy. I have known your name for a couple years and I refrained and respected your privacy all in spite of the fact that you had clearly violated my privacy. I was told your name three years ago. I noted it, but a good journalist likes to obtain a second source, which came along… Read more »

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 9:56 pm

Frenchy isn’t a pseudonym, it’s always just been a nickname. 3 years? That would probably make you the last person in Cobourg to connect the dots.
That pseudonym you use is as silly as exchanging letters with one of your pen pals and using each other’s SIN’s as the addressees, and then whining about it to a magistrate. What next for your gang, secret decoder rings?
You’ve never seen one of my company’s products so what makes you think you are qualified to criticize them? Don’t worry about it now, we’ve been almost decimated by this covid thing and besides, we’ve never had more than 3 employees so no big deal.
I didn’t notice your response to my points of me living here for more years than you or me being a contributing taxpayer for 40 years and asking what about yourself.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
21 December 2020 10:45 pm

All of the above is fair comment.

Publishing another person’s government account number without that person’s consent and publishing it on a third party’s news site without their consent is NOT fair comment. It is an outright violation of privacy.

My last word.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 11:33 pm

How would I (or anybody) know it was your government account number until you told us?
D’uh.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frenchy
Liz Taylor
11 December 2020 2:53 pm

Staffing/direction – Hopefully all will turn their thoughts inwards as they review the future. Many companies will be struggling to regain their footing after vacinations. Myself I have worked in both government, non-profit, retail and transportation industries. Overall I found the work ethic is lacking. There are still good employees but unfortunately companies were carrying a lot of deadwood – late reporters, often abscent, that’s not my job type.

I see many of you have reviewed staffing report increase request commenting on performance. Well I hope each of you will think about your company, it’s future and your role in its success. Perhaps instead of firing the deadwood we can fire up the deadwood to a contributory member of the team through self thought of improvement. A great excercise for any worker. Continued bad performance – fire or let out. Seldom saw this last action which did weaken the work ethic and was spreading. Afterall our economic future as a province depends on it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Informed
11 December 2020 12:23 pm

I have no issue with Town spending money for investment and infrastructure to move the Town forward. We just need to know the difference between ” needs” and “wants”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Informed
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
11 December 2020 5:16 pm

Exactly what I have been saying in all of my prior positings Informed. I guess you say it more succintly.

JimT
Reply to  Liz Taylor
13 December 2020 10:23 am

Succinct is good. As my old instructor used to tell us: “you improve your writing by taking things out”.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  JimT
13 December 2020 4:02 pm

Unfortunately Jim this is a complex issue with many facets – hard to say in a line or two which is my own preference.

K Krakenberg
Reply to  Informed
31 December 2020 2:59 pm

I agree. Needs need to be looked at more closely and wants I’d think should go on a shelf until Covid is history. Hold in place and maintain like several businesses are doing right now to survive. Do what needs to be done maintain what we have, fix what we have to and keep costs down to a minimum u til our world rights itself again. Many businesses have had to cut back and people have lost jobs. I can’t see hiring or paying for studies as necessities until we are on solid ground again and see what the government is going to throw at Canadians to recoup all the money spent to help us survive. Property taxes are already high, salaries have been frozen, jobs lost, businesses lost….maintain should be the need. The wants can wait for another day.

Eastender
10 December 2020 6:39 pm

Council should remind Departments that the budget target is 0-1% increase and send requests back to Department heads for immediate revision to that
end.

Liz taylor
Reply to  Eastender
10 December 2020 10:12 pm

First Council should review the request and find out whether a legitimate need is the reason for the request to increase before sending it back. I am sure you are all aware the population count has increased in Cobourg greatly. Not slam all as out of hand.

Liz taylor
Reply to  Liz taylor
10 December 2020 11:09 pm

Ok – they shouldn’t review them at all, if increase just send ’em back. then – just assume they are all bogus!! Then we will continue with a shortage of staff in the Planning Department and more Vandyke issues.

R M
10 December 2020 6:10 pm

I’m surprised that in the current environment we aren’t challenging our leaders to pivot to either find additional revenue sources or reduce expenses, eliminate increases and focus our dollars on the most basic of our needs, starting at the bottom of a Maslow hierarchy and moving upward. There are very few private/not-for-profit organizations that are increasing budgets in 2021, knowing that despite vaccines, the implications of the pandemic will continue long afterward. I’ve managed budgets up to $60 million over the past 15 years, and can say that in the not-for-profit where I am currently employed, we’ve had to reduce expenses by 10% to match the reduction in revenue. Difficult choices, but we are grateful that we can make do when many companies can’t. This is not the time to look for expense increases without associated revenue increases, and those increases should not be on the backs of the taxpayers, many of whom are struggling to survive at this time. I think we should be hopeful that we can grow when we aren’t struggling through unprecedented times.

Informed
Reply to  R M
10 December 2020 8:22 pm

Abraham Maslow the father of humanistic psychology. Nice touch.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  R M
11 December 2020 12:56 pm

Let the good times roll. I am surprised that each of the departments waited to find the 10% efficiencies. If they can operated at 10% less would it not have been better to have done so over the years? I also once worked for a non-profit – very similar to working for the government in work culture. This non-profit actually had a rolling deficit which was on its way to a 1/2 million. When Harris brought in cuts they scrambled to find efficiencies. I was asked to make suggestions by the Director, Being new I was reluctant but eventually made several suggestions which were adopted. Wondered what took them so long as the black financial cloud of the following deficit continued to grow and why the university educated people were unable to think of them before.

Paul Pagnuelo
10 December 2020 12:44 pm

To the casual observer, it is clear that staff are testing the new CAO and once again are giving Council the annual PET salute. Disrespectful and insubordination are two words that come to mind. Termination is one word which staff may understand better. The Departmental submissions should have been vetted beforehand by the CAO and any exceeding the DM’s guidelines returned to the Department Head or.Director with a warning. As far as last year’s spending and accomplishments go, both are irrelevant at budget time. What took place at the meeting was simply a diversionary tactic. By all means Council should be informed of this information but at a separate time and place. What Council should be given annually is a report on over/under spend to budget. Each expenditure should stand on its own merit, be fully justified and prioritized. It also should show if it is considered a core or mandatory function. When considering the long list of necessary, discretionary and Hustwick’s fantasyland projects requiring borrowed funds, the facts are simple. Taxpayers have no capacity to fund higher taxes or more debt. Council needs to set the direction. Each member must aside their personal project preference. Whether it be the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul Pagnuelo
warren
10 December 2020 9:59 am

Great reporting John! – – – – Again!

Sandpiper
9 December 2020 8:23 pm

If you ask me there are to many departments duplicating , over laping and all claiming credit for the same thing , Time to thin the ranks tighten the belt and make due for another year
We don’t really know if this Covid issue is going a way or the vaccines will work will Covide mutate 1 more time How much longer the well paid staff will continue Not working from home .
Was there even 1 department offering a cost saving idea ??
Get a real job in the real Business world where rewards come with Performance and so does job Retention

cornbread
Reply to  Sandpiper
10 December 2020 9:26 am

Sounds like “Time for a Staff Housecleaning” to me. Current Staff can’t follow directions from Council!

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Sandpiper
10 December 2020 3:21 pm

Private industry has changed. Absences, late reporting, personal phone calls, hiring by knowing someone rather than qualification are common occurences. I was surprised by what I found in so many companies. Certainly not attention to workers’ performances. Another thing that has changed. Great experience and increase of knowledge – best bet – do a good job because that is what you do – do not think of reward. My reward came in multiple job offers based on great references.

Liz taylor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
10 December 2020 10:38 pm

To the “nay” sayer – go out and try it. I did. I wished more knowledge of exactly what was what working many contracts in many different companies. I am sorry to say the above was true in so many different businesses. If you haven’t done this I hope you will be able to appreciate a bit of insight instead of voting against something you have no experience with.

Frenchy
9 December 2020 7:42 pm

Check out the 1:36 (over at escribe) exchange with Councillor Darling and others re: Venture 13.
Why would the Town of Cobourg be subsidizing the Federal Gov’t of Canada (CFDC) with free rent over at Venture 13? They only pay their utilities (along with the Cobourg Police Services) according to Ian Davey. Can this be true?
Good for you Brian to bring this up even though DM Seguin said (in afterthought and hindsight) that she wanted to but didn’t have the cojones.
https://pub-cobourg.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=177a118a-020c-433d-a3f5-d691dc40aa83&Agenda=Agenda&lang=English

Last edited 1 month ago by Frenchy
Frenchy
Reply to  John Draper
9 December 2020 8:13 pm

CFDC?

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Frenchy
13 December 2020 7:50 pm

Frenchy, learn to google stuff like my 12 year old grand daughter does. Just this once I’ll do it for you.

https://financingandstrategy.com/

Last edited 1 month ago by Deborah OConnor
Frenchy
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
19 December 2020 5:31 pm

Oh Deb, just saw this. I know what CFDC is. I was just asking about what their rent situation is over at Venture 13. I was replying to John’s reference to item #4. Ian had said that their situation was the same as CPS biz unit.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Frenchy
9 December 2020 9:58 pm

Frenchy: regarding V13, Northam, not V13 “owns” the building and tenant rents are due to Northam. V13 sublets some of its space to the incubator startups.
The police contributed a significant amount towards the renovation of the building. As the transaction was interdepartmental, third party (public) reporting is not affected by the lack of accounting for the “police rent”. However, for departmental accountability and transparency the “rent should be accounted for and reported. The “rent” would be recorded as deferred rent revenue in Northam’s accounts and as prepaid rent in the cops books. The deferred rent would be amortized over a number (??) of years to Northam rent revenue and cops rent expense.

I don’t recall any mention of free rent for the CFDC in the original V13 proposal. Hopefully the CFDC pays rent to Northam.

Better reporting is required for V13, for its own operations and from Northam regarding the revenues & expenses for the building. In this way a full understanding of the V13 operation can be obtained.

Last edited 1 month ago by SW Buyer
SW Buyer
Reply to  Frenchy
10 December 2020 12:08 am

Frenchy:
I watched the V13 segment that you referenced. A tip of the hat to Clr Darling for raising this issue. Also of note is Ian’s confirmation that Northam “owns” (Northam is a Town business unit, so the Town owns the V13 building) the V13 building and the rents (cops, CFDC, and others) are due to Northam.
Clr Darling mentioned that leasehold improvement costs are the tenants responsibility and that is often true. It is a known practice for Northam (and some private sector landlords) to pay for part/all of the leasehold improvement costs as an incentive to acquire the client.

While Ian’s casual departmental accounting approach and lack of documentation for “inter-departmental agreements” has no impact on financial reporting for the Town as a whole, it certainly does limit the reporting available for departmental accountability and transparency.

JimT
Reply to  SW Buyer
10 December 2020 7:22 am

Well-stated and valuable insight. Thank you.

Frenchy
Reply to  SW Buyer
10 December 2020 1:36 pm

It is a known practice for Northam (and some private sector landlords) to pay for part/all of the leasehold improvement costs as an incentive to acquire the client.

Do you have any examples of Northam paying for other tenants leasehold improvements?

SW Buyer
Reply to  Frenchy
10 December 2020 2:34 pm

Frenchy,

In answer to your question…..

Northumberland News
June 2004
The capital reserve for the industrial park was slightly lower than projected because of the costs incurred after renovating the former school board building in order to land NuComm International as a tenant, explains Mr. Davey.

In July 2017, Mr Davey reported to Council on Northam’s 2016 financial statements. He noted….Fixed asset additions during 2016 include…..leasehold improvements of $477,997 in building 5 and 18...As Northam owned the buildings, any additions would not be leasehold improvements, they would simply be additions.

His commentary on Northam’s 2015 FS supports the idea that the 2016 leasehold improvements were on behalf of a new tenant: ….until the new tenant in Building 5 is operational which is expected sometime in the last quarter of 2016.

As I indicated in my Dec 9 reply (above) to you, the cops advanced funds to Northam as “prepaid rent” to help finance the renovations to the V13 building. The missing component is the accounting entry to record the annual rent revenue (Northam) and rent expense (cops) in the departmental accounts.
This is not an example of “paid for” leasehold improvements offered as an inducement to win a new tenant.

Last edited 1 month ago by SW Buyer
Informed
9 December 2020 7:10 pm

I would like to see the Town build on the Industrial park and seek some new tenants to increase the tax base.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Informed
9 December 2020 8:15 pm

NOW you sound Like Bob Sanderson self made — Fantastic idea Make Money Create Jobs
do you think our Paycheque Mentality Council can clue in
Thats Not hold out your hand and spend

SW Buyer
Reply to  Sandpiper
9 December 2020 9:21 pm

Sandpiper: How exactly would the Town acquire additional leasable commercial/industrial property without spending, ask Santa, or perhaps wave a magic wand?

As an aside, are you willing to work for 35+ hours per week on Council for less than minimum wage? Is that what you believe your work is worth?

Last edited 1 month ago by SW Buyer
Informed
Reply to  Sandpiper
11 December 2020 12:18 pm

Spending and investing are 2 different things

SW Buyer
Reply to  Informed
9 December 2020 9:15 pm

If the Town expanded Northam by buying more land/buildings and leasing them the tax base does not increase. It may actually decrease if the Town purchased the properties from private sector owners.

Interesting thought though, Informed.

Informed
Reply to  SW Buyer
9 December 2020 10:35 pm

The Town already owns the land and would own the building. All buildings are leased out through Delcon that manages the assets.if they are at capacity in the park then this may make sense.

Last edited 1 month ago by Informed
SW Buyer
Reply to  Informed
9 December 2020 11:08 pm

Informed: As long as the Town owns the property, the tax base does not increase. If fact, it decreases if the Town buys property. Buying property to be used for leasing does not generate property tax.

Last edited 1 month ago by SW Buyer
Ken Strauss
9 December 2020 6:15 pm

Library staff got a 1.8% percent pay raise and therefore it is suggested that Council must either increase library funding or reduce library hours. There are thousands of underutilized seniors in Cobourg; probably more than a few our seniors are retired librarians. Why cannot volunteers replace the CUPE staff who are no longer affordable?

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 December 2020 8:16 pm

Because they have contracting out language?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
9 December 2020 9:07 pm

Is using unpaid volunteers “contracting out”? Who would be foolish enough to agree to a contract that prevents cost saving measures?

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 December 2020 11:24 pm

Ken I can tell you of one major unionized government work force that we read about all the time in the paper. Their union contract states should contracting out occur the employees displaced must be placed in positions they are able to perform – not laid off.

Should you volunteer for the library presently only non-union positions may be filled by volunteers. Volunteers – not a big fan – they replace workers that need to support themselves. Managers must change the “culture” of their thought when negotiating – many management employees also reap the a further increase determined on what the union receives.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
10 December 2020 11:18 pm

Great idea Ken. Why not replace all paid staff with volunteers? Who needs trained library staff anyway? Can’t be that hard to put books on shelves. We could look into using volunteers for all Town departments and save a bundle; just check over your tax bill very carefully.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
11 December 2020 10:48 am

Deborah, I’m glad that you agree! You are correct that many time consuming library jobs — checking out books and re-shelving books — do not benefit from using a highly trained librarian. Give our librarians time to do the jobs that use their skills. I can’t think of any reason not to allow retired residents to contribute to our community while at the same time making better use of our tax dollars. Can you?

Bryan
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 December 2020 12:06 pm

Deb,

I don’t see why Cobourg should be different. Other communities including some in Northumberland (Warkworth and Castleton come to mind) make extensive use of community volunteers.
It’s long past the time when Cobourg was a silver spoon community. The Town needs to start living within its means

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Bryan
11 December 2020 6:42 pm

The Cobourg Library has already volunteers within the limit of the union contract. It states no job performed by a union member shall be performed by a volunteer.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
11 December 2020 8:48 pm

Liz, if you are correct then the solution seems simple: eliminate all union staff whose jobs can be done by volunteers.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2020 6:59 am

Ken your solution would close the Library as the union members would picket the Library. This is written right in the contract as many stipulations are. Keep in mind I am reporting what is Ken – I didn’t approve or make these clauses. And yes I am correct. One area for volunteers do participate in is review of books on the shelves checking for misfiles but they do not place the books on the shelves that is a union position.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Greg H
Reply to  Liz Taylor
12 December 2020 4:04 pm

Ken’s suggestion of replacing paid library staff with “volunteers” would have the effect of reducing the amount of paid employment in Cobourg. The motivation appears to be that of avoiding paying for negotiated wage increases. If this approach was generally used it would create unemployment and other associated social dysfunctions.

I have patronized the Cobourg Library for many years, and have found their paid employees to be exceedingly professional and helpful. I would not support any attempt to reduce the number of paid library employees, nor support any attempts to reduce their pay scales.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Greg H
12 December 2020 4:34 pm

Greg, my experience with library staff has also been excellent.

The function of a town is to provide services to its residents; it is not to create employment. We cannot continue to increase Cobourg’s expenditures simply because the alternative might reduce the number employed or impact their pay scales.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Greg H
12 December 2020 5:22 pm

Hello Greg H. – I did not suggest reducing wages in negotiation but holding them until private industry caught up. Pay wages – same job duty listing – for private landscape worker – $16 – $18 per hour, benefits – partial to none. Parks Department now – $28.00 full benefits – dental, medical – all dental requirements with 60% cap/root canal – $10.00 deductible medical – not to mention life insurance 2x annual salary – seems a little uneven and tax payer. Parks Department Cobourg – 2017 – $26.43. I have attached a link to the contract for Cobourg listing the extra shift premiums, time off etc. for you Greg. I just briefly perused it. Seems a bit ludicrous the taxpayer making less funds it.

And yes I visit the library often – love to read all kinds of books and the staff there is very courteous and helpful.
https://www.sdc.gov.on.ca/sites/mol/drs/ca/Public%20Administration/913-42395-20%20(951-0101).pdf

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Greg H
12 December 2020 6:20 pm

One more thing Greg – I said we saw the handwriting on the wall. West of Yonge Street Toronto City garbage truck pick up was contracted out. The people in those jobs would have to be offered alternate work in the City they can do however half of the garbage department jobs are now contracted to private due to cost and the bad behaviour displayed by some during a pro-longed strike.

Eventually more contracting out will come – perhaps after the effects of COVID deficits are further felt. Better to hold wages – these jobs are never coming back and they would fare better under City employment. They just outpriced themselves.

MiriamM
Reply to  Liz Taylor
12 December 2020 8:10 pm

Contracting out works only if there is choice and fair competition. Then, when the smaller contractors are overtaken over by a few bigger outfits there will be less choice to the point there may be no choice. Then what? And, managing contracts and contractors also takes time, skill and staff. Also, when the contractors are consultants, well, we have read opinions about that …

Liz Taylor
Reply to  MiriamM
13 December 2020 1:21 am

Many larger centres, don’t know about Cobourg Miriam, work with the larger companies as there is a clause in the City provisions requiring the contracted work only go to companies that renumerate under the Fair Wage Act, smaller lesser companies can’t afford to pay those kind of wages.

Besides Miriam I never suggested contracting out – but I knew that would be the direction that would be eventually taken. My input in the amalgamation negotiations was to suggest other contract improvements in place of pay raises as the City already paid above private industry. I felt it would save City direct employment jobs and lessen contracting out. We’ll see what the COVID deficit brings and with all those homeless costs the City certainly will be hard pressed for money.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  MiriamM
13 December 2020 1:34 am

Also Miriam the City was able to sell off 1/2 of its garbage trucks, dispense with repairs, insurance, WSIB, and uniforms expense as well as wages and benefits and fleet replacement costs.

Additional benefit to the City – The garbage was a big factor in strike threat – people missed their pick ups and the collection area were piled with sitnky rotting garbage. A great union bargaining chip. Was stronger before Ambulance was made an essential service and can’t strike now. So best to strengthen the economic reason for keeping direct workers – which is what I tried to do and on a more level “paying” field to private industry and fairer to the tax payer.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 December 2020 11:21 am

Ken …this simplistic approach to employees is one of the reasons Unions exist. Unions have improved alot of areas such as health and safety of workers and rights to fair wages and and safe workplaces. Much of this forced the private sector to also adopt. Sure, there are also alot of issues that we can look at that may not be so good at times and it becomes easy to bash Unions. We should all wish that private sector postions that typically pay alot less are brought up to a living wage for people and safe for people to work.Simply getting rid of peoples jobs to save a few nickles on the tax bill doesnt cut it. Real job losses affect people and their families.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
13 December 2020 12:40 pm

No one is bashing Unions Informed. The tax payer is funding these particular unions and in my many positions in private industry none paid or gave benefits like the municipal government jobs I also held. Contracting out of these jobs has occured and with COVID especially and the growing homeless problem as well as infrastructure needs you are likely to see more of it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Informed
Reply to  Liz Taylor
13 December 2020 12:53 pm

I wasnt aware that my taxes go to Union dues
Lol

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
13 December 2020 1:03 pm

What an inane thing to say Informed!

Informed
Reply to  Liz Taylor
13 December 2020 3:02 pm

At least it extracted a short rebuttal.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
13 December 2020 3:45 pm

Not much to reply to when you offer such a comment Informed.
You have an easier time of it as all the background is supplied for you Informed on complex issues.

If people are not concerned with the issues to the point of reading not much point in my wasting my time. Hope they do more when the vote in elections or we are doomed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
15 December 2020 4:37 pm

That is why Informed I did my best to save them but under a better footing, more equal to private industry and the tax payer or consumer in the coming years after COVID – handwriting was on the wall a long time ago.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Bryan
12 December 2020 7:14 am

Bryan once upon a time government jobs were not unionized. They were paid a reasonable but sometimes lower salary then private industry for the exchange of a very secure job. Being tax payer funded and also thought to be a service to your city/province/country. In negotiations I partook in one of my suggestions that was voted down was to concentrate on other areas other than pay as I was aware these jobs paid more than private industry, were good jobs as they stood – however when you have 5 unions to one it is unlikely you’ll ever be heard and the contract was written in favour of them as they had 5 votes to 1. Amalgamation was a big fat failure as far as saving the City money. Hiring grew, wages grew tremendously and it is near to impossible to downsize as employees in contracted out jobs must have a position found for them they can do. The reach of CUPE stretches far.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
12 December 2020 11:35 am

Addition – One suggestion we made, seeing the handwriting on the wall, was strengthening of seniority rights. We had in mind people reaching age 50 with seniority of 25 years or more. A life time of work should count for something other than being thrown out the door.

It was adopted enthusiastically but evenutally expanded also to other work aspects – promotion, full time hire, greatly lowering seniority lay off clauses. The expansion of the seniority considerations resembled more an elephant than the grain of sand it started with. A suggestion made for consideration of loyalty and long time service instead of dime a dozen practices.

With COVID-19 deficits looming, businesses struggling and overhead costs of government bodies there should be a complete review by management employees and politicians. The playing field has changed. Tax payers are should feel concern and pensioners relying on investments.

Last edited 1 month ago by Liz Taylor
Informed
9 December 2020 4:43 pm

Its a great exercise to keep a lid on expenditures but prices always rise. I think the Town has more of a revenue problem. Divert all the tourist dollars to bring industry and more commerical building. The Town needs to expand its tax base and not rely on the individual homeowner as they are tapped out.The Town can reduce expenses and increase revenue by exploring a user pay system for the beach. A different approach is needed and may not be popular with everyone.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
9 December 2020 9:35 pm

. . . increase revenue by exploring a user pay system for the beach.”

This tiresome idea is never gonna happen because the people of Cobourg will reject the idea. It’s a waste of time to explore it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wally Keeler
SW Buyer
9 December 2020 4:14 pm

Same old tactic…instead of preparing a responsible budget within the guidelines as asked, ask for more than you want/need and force Council to reduce the budget down to what you secretly wanted/needed in the first place.

This makes Council be the bad guy and diverts any responsibility and accountability away from staff.

And Council falls for it every time, instead of calling staff’s bluff, rejecting the budget and sending it back to staff for revision.

The other option is for Council to replace staff’s budget with one of their own…a truly draconian budget full of huge cuts and staff reductions.

Wishful thinking…Such a budget is not a responsible one and does not serve the interests of the residents that Council is mandated to represent by the municipal act.

Such is the game of municipal politics….posturing, bluff and chicken.

Last edited 1 month ago by SW Buyer
Liz Taylor
9 December 2020 3:19 pm

Times are changing. Greater population, more of everything needs. Cost to administer? In the last few years things in Canada have changed. I have never though unionized labour a bad thing – it has to be equaled out. But in one union negotiation I was privy to and able to provide input although not sitting at the table I had suggested different objectives than renumeration as these were good jobs as they stood but recognized jobs in the private sector would not be able to offer renumeration and benefit packages such as given in government. Planning Department – criticism directed recently on timeliness of submissions for site plans – 2 vacancies in department – that would slow things down The Library – CUPE wage increases to restrict hours/service if funds not received – it is a time to recognize new times – more service requests – a shaking down of what was, as the carefree times have passed for financial consideration MPAC growth factor – ?? in value or in population – East End housing and Vandyke signify a goodly number of people needing services about to arrive Staff Payroll and Benefits – this is tax payer funded and times… Read more »

Downtowner
9 December 2020 2:58 pm

I seems that a lot of department head do not understand what 1% is. Maybe we could replace these people with others who are better in math.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Downtowner
13 December 2020 5:26 pm

Wish it were so simple Downtowner.