First Council meeting re 2021 Budget

Cobourg Council has released a schedule of seven meetings where the budget is developed and the public is invited – albeit virtual (see link below) – and the first one was held at 5:00 pm today.  In introducing the meeting, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin said that it would help Council decide on “Areas of Focus” – but she did say that this year the target would be a 1 to 2% increase.  Suzanne then discussed the meeting schedule and this prompted Councillor Nicol Beatty to ask about how well the second meeting about Community Grants had been publicized.  She pointed out that the web site still had year old information.  Brent Larmer took responsibility for the oversight but said that interested people still found a way to make applications.  The deadline for Community Grant applications as always was October 31 and this year 7 requests were received in time compared to 30 last year.  Several of these requested “in-kind” donation of Victoria Hall space which raised the question as to when it will be open.  There was no answer to this since it depends on the Province and their direction re the pandemic.

Last year, submissions on the budget were heard in September with four people making submissions complete with presentations (see link below).  This year there were only two and they were in written form only with no presentations.

Here are summaries of what they suggested and links to their full submissions (in Links below).

Ted Williams

Ted Williams
Ted Williams

Ted also submitted in 2019 – his photo at right is from that event.

Ted was concerned about the Marina budget:

During this homelessness and pandemic crisis in Cobourg, with many single moms struggling to find a place to live, as well as food, it’s hard for us to remember back when every dollar counts. Are we going to take money from them by using tax dollars to support the marina? This expensive, exclusive-use facility has less than 200 participants.

He listed money spent (and to be spent) on the Marina over the past and immediate future years and doubted that the reserve fund and future profit would cover costs. He pointed to “the push to spend extra millions on travelift for a hundred boaters used twice a year to lift 50 boats” and to Paul Gauthier’s 2015 report that “the Marina cannot afford a travelift”

He asked:

Doesn’t council, in order to make an informed decision, deserve a professional / independent and up-to-date reserve fund study?

Terry Marrocco and 8 others

The concern was that Council should be planning and actively budgeting for more trees. The submission says:

For our long-term vision of Cobourg, do we see us enjoying green canopied streets or do we see solar paneled congregated dwellings, no tall trees, nor shade for greenery, residents would walk, cycle to go to community gardens and local parks? We must plan our budgets now to align with the vision we have for 5, 10, 20 years hence.

And

Rory Quigley’ gave a great report outlining need for accurate counting of trees in Cobourg. Now his plan must be costed to start getting bylaws and regulations and rest of first year of plan with all departments in order to get the Urban forest plan off the shelf and implemented economically in Cobourg.

The next budget meeting is for Community Grant Presentations on December 7 followed by a meeting on December 8 to hear submissions by six departments.

Links

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Eastender
24 November 2020 2:20 pm

“the target would be a 1 to 2% increase”…..says Deputy Mayor about upcoming budget. Why not a 1 to 2% decrease? Why not reduce spending
after a tumultuous year? Why not reduce or eliminate any non-essential spending, i.e.,community grants, spending on Marina, etc.? Why not tender projects rather than sole source them to get best possible value?
This Council should reject any 1-2% increase for the upcoming budget.
And the Marina does not need a taxpayer funded anything. Let the members, visitors and users pay.

Last edited 9 months ago by Eastender
SW Buyer
Reply to  Eastender
24 November 2020 2:35 pm

I agree that a decrease of 1-2% would be nice, even appropriate in the circumstances.

I believe the DM initially suggested a target of 0-1%. Also remember that the DM or any member of Council does not have the authority to direct a budget target, They can only suggest. The budget belongs to and is the responsibility of Staff.

Tendering is a double edged sword. There is a cost to preparing a tender and a cost for the vendors to reply. So issuing a tender may not yield the lowest cost or the best quality.

The marina is a business, as is the VPC (campground). Pure and simple. They should (and are) funded by their clients. Both are “payer” (user) funded.

Last edited 9 months ago by SW Buyer
Ken Strauss
Reply to  SW Buyer
24 November 2020 3:31 pm

Also remember that the DM or any member of Council does not have the authority to direct a budget target, They can only suggest.

Not exactly. Council decides on priorities and approves all expenditures for other than police and Council has the authority to deny approval for any budget item. In the last budget cycle a number of items were reduced or even eliminated. Also, the CAO is responsible for preparing the budget and serves only with the approval of Council.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Ken Strauss
24 November 2020 5:20 pm

The point is that only Council as a whole can direct Staff through the CAO….not an individual member.
I agree that Council can approve/modify individual line items and the entire budget. This is part of Council’s oversight responsibility as mandated by the municipal act.
The CAO is the top executive of the Town and is hired/fired by Council (board of directors) as needed. This does not change the CAO’s responsibility to produce and manage the Town’s budget.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  SW Buyer
24 November 2020 10:01 pm

More accurately, only a majority of Council can do anything — modify budget items, approve the budget, approve a bylaw, hire/fire the CAO or…

Cap’n John
Reply to  SW Buyer
24 November 2020 5:35 pm

The marina is not a “stand alone” business, some decisions are influenced by what staff see as “Town interest”. e.g. staff believe visiting boaters spend significant tourism money, and therefore they allocate docks to them, not to local boaters. The result can be a loss of revenue for the marina, and in a worst case, no local tourism spending by the visiting boater. A “lose, lose” business decision.
The marina business practice is also flawed due to lack of incentive to operate efficiently.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Cap’n John
24 November 2020 7:50 pm

Cap’n John,
I made no claim that the marina was a “stand alone” business….whatever that means.

As for the Town shilling for downtown (or other) Cobourg businesses, this is a misguided effort and is not part of the Town’s mandate. Further, there is no independent verifiable evidence or analysis that visiting boaters bring “significant” (whatever that means) revenue to the Town. If local businesses have determined that visiting boater trade is worth attracting, let them pay for it, not the Town. Other marina’s on the lake’s north shore don’t hold large numbers of slips for visiting boaters. Why should Cobourg’s?

One thing that we agree on is that the marina needs to operate efficiently.

Last edited 9 months ago by SW Buyer
Cap’n John
Reply to  SW Buyer
24 November 2020 8:28 pm

I think we totally agree. I just didn’t communicate my message very well.
As boaters, most of us agree the marina should be a well run business, and it pains us to see bad business decisions or practices at the marina. I also totally agree that the marina should pay its way, without Town financial support.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Cap’n John
24 November 2020 8:46 pm

Good to know, and I agree

greengrass
Reply to  Cap’n John
25 November 2020 6:43 am

MORE money made by vistiting boaters than THE Toronto Beach FLOCK?

Dubious
Reply to  greengrass
25 November 2020 8:49 am

Why recommend a bad idea simply because it is less bad than another? Neither the “Toronto Beach FLOCK” or visiting boaters are beneficial to the vast majority of Cobourg families. During a pandemic we should discourage both.

Conor
Reply to  Dubious
25 November 2020 2:56 pm

Put up barbed wire fences at all entrances to Cobourg to keep out the Toronto Beach Flock ( what ever that is ) and put land mines at the entrance to Cobourg harbour to keep out visiting boaters. That will solve your priblem.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Conor
25 November 2020 3:43 pm

What do you believe you contribute and accomplish with your smartass suggestions and sarcasm. With this approach, I think you are selling yourself short.
Make a positive contribution. Propose a workable alternative and solution.
Otherwise, go and play the troll somewhere else.

Conor
Reply to  SW Buyer
25 November 2020 4:14 pm

That is a positive solution .Some people on here have a total dislike of “out of towners and out of town boaters”. They are worried that these folks are the cause of their high taxes but in reality that’s not the case. We all suffer from high taxes but you shouldn’t take it out on tourists..

Informed
Reply to  Conor
25 November 2020 4:46 pm

I think most people want to keep the covid out from tourists in the summer that use our free beach,leave and go back to the city. Beach tourists spend little here. Too bad if you dont like it.

greengrass
Reply to  SW Buyer
25 November 2020 6:40 am

AND how much revenue was MADE at the campground this year?

greengrass
Reply to  Eastender
25 November 2020 6:38 am

AND do how to expact a decrease after this past yr.? NO parking revenanue JUST to start!

cornbread
Reply to  Eastender
25 November 2020 12:31 pm

How about No Renovations for the Fire Dept building…The Chief wants $250,000 up front in next year’s budget.

John Hill
24 November 2020 9:54 am

Congratulations to Ted Williams for his desire to apply the brakes to spending that benefits only an elite few. Too often the Town’s budget consultation process amounts to little more than a Santa Claus wish list with everyone holding their hands out for subsidies. If we want the Town to prosper we have to realize our taxes are way out of line. No doubt that has to do with a meagre industrial tax base, but a sizeable portion has to do with council trying to satisfy every special interest group. Maybe it the time just to say “No.”

Sandpiper
24 November 2020 8:53 am

As I agree with Mr Williams about there are more important Issues out there right now that require real attention and action and probably continued need over the next 3 to 4 years of Pandemic recovery .
So Lets all go Count the Trees for RORY — better yet may be he can educate the school students as to the types of trees etc as part of a Green class curriculum
get them out doors where it safe to breath and count the Trees Please No more expensive studies
and high priced Tree Counters

Gayle
Reply to  Sandpiper
24 November 2020 10:00 am

there should be no difficulty getting knowledgeable, volunteer tree counters and I am one of them!