More Details on Cobourg’s 2020 Finances

At Tuesday’s Special Council meeting, as reported in the previous Post, Treasurer Ian Davey provided Councillors with an update on the current financial status of Cobourg.  He confirmed that the numbers are an estimate for the whole year based on actuals to date.  He also confirmed that the million dollars saved on staffing was because of hiring that was deferred or did not happen.  His report included details on where additional money was spent because of Covid-19, details on Government grants and status of current Capital Projects.  This follow-up post includes those details.   Some Capital spending has been deferred but most projects have continued irrespective of Covid-19 – usually we don’t get a status report on projects so this progress report is good.

Extra Spending due to Covid-19

Type Police Transit WPCP General Grand Total
Cleaning $13,599.32 $164.85 $745.05 $19,950.87 $34,460.09
Communication $865.37     $34,097.80 $34,963.17
Facility Modifications $2,569.57 $12,536.83 $2,846.70 $151,975.39 $169,928.49
First Responders $6,884.37       $6,884.37
IT $4,896.31   $58.38 $14,143.82 $19,098.51
PPE $7,210.90 $503.09 $1,512.31 $49,272.82 $58,499.12
Grand Total $36,025.84 $13,204.77 $5,162.44 $269,440.70 $323,833.75

Federal – Provincial Funding announced to Date

Federal – Provincial Safe Restart – Phase 1 $571,800
Federal – Provincial Safe Restart – Transit Operations $97,780
Provincial Enhanced Public Transit Cleaning  $8,767
 Total $678,347
Ian Davey
Ian Davey

Both Ian Davey and Major John Henderson spoke about why Cobourg would not be applying for Safe Restart – Phase 2 funding.  While Phase 1 funding was simply allocated with “no questions asked”, Phase 2 would need to be justified including explaining where Phase 1 funding was spent and why additional money was required. It seems that those who manage their money well, get less help

The list of Capital projects is long (48 items) and includes a number of projects that are deferred into 2021.  Ian explained that these could be done in 2021 since the budget amount was already approved.  However, if Council so wished, as part of the 2021 budget setting process, the money could be re-allocated in 2021 to other projects since it has not yet been spent.

The list below includes 20 projects that are large and/or of significant Public Interest. Of the total 2020 budget of $8.8M, $1.28M was deferred into 2021. See link below for the full list.  The full report also indicates funding: Tax base ($302K), debenture (borrowing – $2M), Federal Gas Tax ($1.6M), reserves ($3.9M) or other ($802K).

Significant Capital Projects – Status

Project Budget Status
Kerr St. – Division to D’Arcy $2,085,120 Construction in Progress
Mathew St reconstruction $820,000 Substantially Complete
Streetlight Replacement Program $355,000 Ongoing
Harbour Electrical System $310,000 Completed
Waterfront Plan – East Pier $275,000 Work in Progress
Vic Hall Sandstone repairs $270,000 Completed
Harbour Seawalls and Breakwaters $200,000 Work in Progress
Wheels Bus Replacement $160,000 Proceeding
Albert St reconstruction $15,000 Design Work Proceeding
Tennis Court Resurfacing $53,000 Completed
Donegan C Diamond Resurfacing $35,000 Committed
Council Chamber Microphones $15,000 Completed
Waterfront Spray Pad $15,000 Completed
Waterfront Plan – Campground $127,000 RFP Issued
Harbour Improvements Phase 1 $88,000 RFP Issued
Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation $1,000,000 On Hold
Sidewalks $200,000 Deferred to 2021
Cooey Park Development $100,000 Deferred to 2021
Replace some existing Playspace Equipt. $60,000 Deferred to 2021
Water Bottle Filling Stations $15,000 Deferred to 2021

Sorted by status timing.

Councillors asking questions about Ian’s report were Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and Emily Chorley.  However, Ian’s report was clear, comprehensive and positive – so there was little need for questions.


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22 October 2020 9:31 am

The following seems odd/awkward: “Councillors asking questions about Ian’s report were Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and Emily Chorley. However, Ian’s report was clear, comprehensive and positive – so there was little need for questions.” – no? I to am impressed by the transparency offered in this report, hope they keep it up.

Reply to  Gerinator
22 October 2020 10:47 am

Did you notice that not 1 person was laid off during the shut down
everyone was paid to stay home .
Just that No Hiring took place .
Transparency is created to appear that way .

I would like to hear more about the Woodlawn and what it will ultimately cost to this community , To handle outsider issues .

Reply to  Sandpiper
22 October 2020 12:14 pm

Everyone stayed home?

Reply to  Sandpiper
22 October 2020 3:18 pm

Sandpiper – I’m not sure if you are aware however employers can’t “layoff” salaried staff unless otherwise prescribed in their employment agreement. A layoff of a salaried employee without it being expressed in a contract would constitute a constructive dismissal (i.e. termination) resulting in the payment of statutory obligations such as pay in lieu of notice, benefits, vacation payouts, severance, etc… in many cases this would exceed the cost and the benefit of maintaining wages during this time. Employment relationships in the Province of Ontario can be complex.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rob
Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Rob
22 October 2020 7:46 pm

Perhaps you are referring to unionized public servants that are incredibly difficult to lay off or fire, whether it be due to lack of work (for example event planners when there are no events comes to mind), or for poor productivity ( delay in financial reports when requested by council). However in the private sector it is quite easy to be laid off, particularly during a pandemic when there is no work. Revenue down means they can’t pay their employees. That is completely irrelevant for government which have never been run as businesses. Need more revenue: raise property tax and keep paying those salaries.

Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
23 October 2020 8:28 am

CT – I was speaking to any salaried (aka nonunionized) employee. You are correct all collective agreements have lockout/layoff provisions and layoffs of unionized staff (public and private) are easily triggered given the appropriate notice is provided, bumping right followed, etc…

Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
23 October 2020 9:00 am

Or pay increased costs for training new employees as the economy improves. Also incresed costs in attrition due to employees having no job security and leaving eleswhere to where employers care about their well being. An interesting article yesterday made reference to this.

Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
24 October 2020 2:46 pm

Rob & CP
Rob notes the difficulty (legality) of laying off salaried (non-union??) staff. Why is this a problem. It was and is regularly done in the private sector.
Difficulty dealing with unionized public servants (I really dislike the term “servants”) is widely regarded as difficult and challenging. Perhaps it is.
However, other municipalities laid-off staff, union and “salaried”. Why not Cobourg?

Last edited 2 years ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
24 October 2020 5:36 pm

From my experience , laying off unionized employees is quite easy, collective agreements are straight forward on this

Reply to  Leweez
26 October 2020 10:40 am

Laying off non-union employees, without agreed to provisions in the employment letter or without the employee voluntarily accepting/consenting to the lay-off can be/likely will be considered a constructive dismissal…meaning the employer has terminated the employee. Which if the employer doesn’t mind paying notice pay, benefits, severance, reasonable notice (over and above the statutory minimums) and probably some legal costs might be a prudent decision. Also and unless the employer has deemed those positions redundant, the employer would then be searching for a replacement, in the future, which again costs time, resources, onboarding, training and the time it takes a new employee to become fully productive. Expensive and difficult decisions either way….might be better to allow employees to work from home in a structured way or redistribute employees into other critical departments – lets hope this is a once in a generation issue and we do not need to make these tough decisions again.

Reply to  Rob
23 October 2020 8:53 am

Check out the real world
not the Govt. employees and Teachers
Even Banks and Insurance Cos have laid off and down sized
after a closure of specified length

Reply to  Sandpiper
23 October 2020 9:43 am

lol – it happens every day…I worked in public sector for years.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Gerinator
22 October 2020 2:15 pm

Are you arguing that they should not have asked questions? There are a lot of shortfalls in the report and the methodology used..

Reply to  Gerinator
24 October 2020 2:33 pm

Like Gerinator, I found the John’s comment “… Councilors asking questions about Ian’s report were Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and Emily Chorley. However, Ian’s report was clear, comprehensive and positive – so there was little need for questions….” awkward and likely to be misconstrued.
I reviewed the video and noted that both the DM and Clr Chorley complimented CFO Davey on his report. The questions asked by the DM and Clrs Darling and Chorley were good questions and brought out additional information.