County Budget Brings Changes

After a longer than usual review, County Council approved the 2020 budget on 13 February with an increase over last year of 2.61% in the tax levy.  Included in the budget are some key initiatives plus some changes in fees.  This year will see “breaking ground for construction of the new Golden Plough Lodge and Northumberland County Archives & Museum facility” and “continuing with county-wide implementation of the Affordable Housing Strategy, including completion of a detailed design for the Elgin Park Redevelopment Project.” Effective March 30, fees for tipping at Community Recycling Centres (CRC) (that’s the latest name for the waste dumps) will increase from $115 to $130 per tonne and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) operations at the Brighton and Bewdley CRCs will accept HHW three days per week rather than six.

And garbage bag tags will cost $1 more at $3.75 effective 1 March, 2020.  The County says that:

This is the first fee increase for bag tags since 2007. This increase aligns with the recent roll-out of enhanced waste and recycling collection services – including two-stream recycling and organics collection – designed to achieve the long-term goal of 75% waste diversion from the local landfill.

Bob Sanderson
Bob Sanderson

Warden Bob Sanderson says:

Ultimately, this planned increase to bag tag fees will ensure that we can continue to offer the services necessary to fully pursue our shared goal of 75% waste diversion in order to extend the lifespan of our landfill. As an off-set to household waste disposal costs, residents are encouraged to take full advantage of the recycling and green bin programs, which allow for unlimited set-out of eligible items each week.

Other budget highlights

  • Re-surfacing and renewal of existing roads and bridges, including surface treatment of over 120 km of municipal and County roadways, and rehabilitation and reconstruction of over 10 km of County roadway.
  • Developing a Social Housing Master Plan to maximize management of existing stock, including identifying prospects for renewal and intensification, as well as exploring expansion opportunities.
  • Developing a Community Wellbeing and Safety Plan in collaboration with community partners, as mandated by the province, to address local priorities related to crime and complex social issues.
  • Fostering innovation through continued implementation of the Digital Strategy, including addressing local broadband challenges, modernizing the County’s internal IT infrastructure, and pursuing community-based digital literacy opportunities.

The County gets only about 50% of its revenue from taxes; the remaining 50% comes from grants and subsidies from other levels of government, plus property leasing, the sale of recycled materials from the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), and user fees. (More details in the article County Taxes for 2020 – see link below).

The County says that “Final budget documents will be available on the County website by February 21, 2020  at: Northumberland.ca/Budget2020.”

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MiriamM
18 February 2020 11:30 pm

Cobourg Now reports that County Council gave it self a retroactive raise: “The Warden’s salary has risen to $49,231.76 from $45,477.00 and councillor salaries increased to just over $20,000, up from $18,347.00. The new position of Deputy Warden has a salary of just over $24,000.” In addition, there are per diem rates for meetings attended.

This is interesting since it was reported here that County Council raised its salary in 2018 and created a by-law to mandate a County Council salary review every four years.

Frenchy
Reply to  MiriamM
19 February 2020 8:30 am

Anybody else around here getting a 9% bump in pay?

Leweez
Reply to  Frenchy
19 February 2020 6:40 pm

Nice raise, considering that county unionized employees had to fight for 2%
And some did not get that much

Informed
Reply to  Frenchy
20 February 2020 10:20 pm

Yup

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
24 February 2020 10:11 am

Congrats and good for you Informed. I hope you are in the private sector as I’m running out of tax dollars to pay for hefty, over the top, raises in the public realm.

terry marrocco
18 February 2020 11:41 am

Re garbage tags going up Mar 1… understood it costs more to have weekly garbage pickup, but Durham and Peel alternated recycling pickup when they started the green bin. My understanding is the county hired a separate contractor to pick up the green bin. Anyway the county could find out from us, which we prefer, $1 more per garbage bag or a creative alternating recycling pickup etc?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  terry marrocco
18 February 2020 1:03 pm

So much for public engagement before our unelected County Council made this knee-jerk reaction.

An extra dollar or two weekly will be a burden for many families. And for many seniors struggling with hauling 3 or more bins each week through their house to get to the curb, the whole recycling initiative is beginning to become a collosal turnoff. Then there is the belittling insult that we all need a year to practice before the new trucks come online.

Time to review the wisdom of the County’s approach to garbage and recycling pickup and disposal. This time please involve the residents for input on potential problems and solutions. The bureaucracy and an unelected, unaccountable Council are not always smarter than those of us who pay for their mistakes.

JimT
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
19 February 2020 9:34 am

I would think that any household putting out one garbage bag per week isn’t trying to recycle nearly hard enough. Anyone with a yard has the possibility of composting “green” waste (no meat or dairy) in a corner, and much of the rest has to be recyclable.
I would be surprised if a single-person household would have to put out a garbage bag full of non-recyclables more often than monthly, if that.

Wendy
Reply to  JimT
19 February 2020 2:22 pm

We are cat owners and I am sure this applies to the many dog owners also but we have to put out a heavy weekly garbage bag. Does not matter how much we recycle, we have no other option. Guess being penalized for being a pet owner.

Informed
Reply to  Wendy
20 February 2020 10:22 pm

You are not penalized. You are paying the costs of having a pet.Your choice

Janice Howieson
17 February 2020 3:57 pm

My husband is in the secure unit of the Golden Plough. He is in a four bed ward. This is two small adjoining rooms with two beds in each and sharing one toilet and washbasin between them. No air conditioning or access to WiFi. The bathroom with shower and tub is down the hall. The staff do an exemplary job with the equipment available, always competent, good humoured and compassionate but it is certainly time for a building update.

JimT
Reply to  Janice Howieson
18 February 2020 10:50 am

The shower and tub are down the hall where an attendant is on duty to give each resident their bath according to a posted schedule.
Most residents I see could not – and should not – be using a tub or shower in their own room if they wanted to.
Makes sense to take the resident to the shower, which would otherwise sit idle much of the time, than the other way around.
I can’t imagine what the residents would do with wi-fi even if it were available. A small, local bluetooth sound system with soothing music in each area with individual headphones would be more appropriate, and easy to install.

GailR
17 February 2020 10:04 am

I visit a cousin in the Golden Plough, and he also doesn’t understand why the existing building will not be repurposed. Is it something to do with green space? He feels an acqua exercise pool would be much more use to the residents than Archives. Which should by rights be in the County building. Someone trying to piggyback?

Ken Strauss
16 February 2020 5:01 pm

So a 36% increase in garbage tag costs. Any indication of how long we can continue to use the current tags?

Gerinator
Reply to  Ken Strauss
17 February 2020 9:06 am

I’ll be buying a bunch pre-March 1.

George Taylor
Reply to  Gerinator
26 February 2020 2:02 am

where to buy? phoned Grafton Town Hall Monday, had hundreds, go down Tues. SOLD OUT?
do you suppose county bushiness bought up for resale?

George Taylor
Reply to  George Taylor
26 February 2020 2:07 am

I WILL BET THAT ANY STORE WILL CLAIM THEY DON’T HAVE ANY LEFT? COME MARCH SECOND! GUESS WHAT? NOW WE NOW HAVE SOME?

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
20 February 2020 10:24 pm

Until you run out🙂

greengrass
Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 February 2020 8:17 am

$2.75 raised to $3.75 according to my calculator is a WHOPPING %73.33 raise?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  greengrass
23 February 2020 9:44 am

Time for a new calculator. The increase is 36%

greengrass
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
24 February 2020 7:49 am

Sorry 36.36% still a HEFTY INCREASE?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  greengrass
24 February 2020 2:01 pm

I agree with you completely. It’s not just hefty but outrageous. My suggestion is to let Mayor Henderson, our member on County Council, know how much you disagree with the vote he cast and not asking his own Council and the public for input.

JimT
16 February 2020 2:13 pm

I visit Golden Plough Lodge all the time and I can’t see for the life of me how anyone can justify tearing down a perfectly good, functioning facility such as that and replacing it at a cost of $80,000,000.00 (if I recall from recent reports).
Is this the pet project of someone of influence? A make-work project designed to use up provincial funding that became available, the same as was done in financing the frink (a use-it-or-lose-it proposition in terms of provincial grants)?
Golden Plough is a already a modern facility, clean and in excellent shape and good for years of use as is, seems to me. Why the sudden impulse to destroy it and rebuild at great expense?
And while I’m at it: the staff there are always consistently patient, competent, informed, helpful, diligent and more. It’s a pleasure and a relief to know that they are on duty providing as much care and support as possible for both residents and family and friends.

Mark
Reply to  JimT
16 February 2020 7:18 pm

The building is not up the standard the provincial government wants for nursing home , plain and simple
So it was rebuild or close it down

MiriamM
Reply to  JimT
16 February 2020 7:44 pm

As Mark notes, I think it is about standards for the purpose of the facility as a long term care home. However, it is a puzzle why the current building can not find other purpose such as a another type of co-housing residence scenario with a range of suites of affordable housing. Where needed, strip the building down to its frame and refurbish. Sending the whole building to landfill seems a waste.

JimT
Reply to  MiriamM
16 February 2020 8:48 pm

Thank you both for the clarification. I do agree that finding a new purpose for the place such as that suggested would seem to be a reasonable and prudent thing to do, assuming it’s not too late.

perplexed
Reply to  JimT
17 February 2020 9:51 am

IT’s NEVER TO LATE
But like every thing else are you getting the Facts
The County likes to Be involved in every thing and take Decades to Complete
Anything

Mark
Reply to  MiriamM
17 February 2020 10:37 am

Miriam
I was involved the renovation at Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf in Belleville, were they saved the building 🙄
The cost ended up in the 10s of millions of dollars and years to complete and is still an old building
The amount of new structural work that had to be done was amazing , they had to reinforce the building with a new steel skeleton
A new building would only been in the millions and taken a year to complete

MiriamM
Reply to  Mark
17 February 2020 1:17 pm

hi Mark, the school you mention (a very beautiful heritage building) is about the same vintage as Victoria Hall in Cobourg which also cost a lot to restore including a new steel skeleton. The original GPL building is long gone. Some of the current parts of the GPL building complex are only about 30-40 years old. To me, some features like windows look like even more recent replacements.

perplexed
Reply to  JimT
17 February 2020 9:19 am

I under stand from our MPP ‘s office that 1 other Long Term Care facility and 1 Retirement Operator is expanding wants to Build in in Port Hope and 2 Long Term Care operators want in to Cobourg by the new Hotel on Depalma Dr. but apparently Cobourg Planning has been holding them up for well over a year now . Why ? is the 1 st thing that comes to mind . This would take some of the Burden off the Tax payers and If Subsidized Beds are the answer or whats called for The I am sure any LTC operator would be happy to get in on that game where the Province / County could guarantee a certain percentage of Beds / units and income The same as they pretend to do with affordable housing and apartments where they insist or take 40 % of the units in a building at below market rents . This would also bring a new Employer to Town and a New Tax payer –not a expansion of a not for profit like the Plough and yes repurpose the old Building It Can be done despite what they want us to believe .… Read more »

Deborah O'Connor
Reply to  perplexed
17 February 2020 7:26 pm

The Plough is under County jurisdiction, nothing to do with Cobourg. If I may ask, what is your distaste for non profits based on? I don’t understand but would like to.

Leweez
Reply to  Deborah O'Connor
19 February 2020 5:03 pm

My distaste for them is that I have to pay for them