On Thursday, 17 December, Deputy Director of Community Services Teresa Behan presented her proposed budget for 2021 and included significant budget cuts to make up for expected reduced revenue in 2021. Because of Covid-19, assumptions were made about when activity would return to normal. The budget assumed the Beach would reopen, that the Concert Hall would stay closed, the CCC would have drastic reduction is usage – especially in the first half of the year – the Waterfront Festival would not happen (Canada Day not determined), the Sandcastle Festival would be virtual and promotion of Tourism would be reduced. Teresa suggested how the loss of revenue could be mitigated with deferred hiring and other reductions in cost. Her presentation (see links below) included details of the dollar amounts for revenue and cost reductions.
For more detail see Teresa’s full presentation but here are some highlights. (File photo of Teresa.at right)
Beach and Harbour
- Beach and splashpad open – no mention of Canteen
- Beach and Centennial Pool lifeguards planned
- Marina and Trailer park to resume operation at full capacity
- Sandcastle Festival would be virtual only
- Reduction in special events
- Adult playground to proceed to prevent loss of $25K grant – cost to Town $10K
- Fewer Movies in the Park – supported by sponsors
Cobourg Community Centre
- CCC Revenue expected to be $450K less. Revenue shortfall is predicted until April, gradual increase over the summer and then back to full capacity starting in September through to December. Total cost goes from $1.237M in 2020 budget to $1.404M in 2021 budget
- Defer hiring of CCC related staff to partially offset loss of revenue
- CCC Canteen to be closed for 2021
- Defer hiring of Recreation & Culture Manager until 2022
- Concert Hall will remain closed for 2021. Three staff have been re-assigned to other jobs.
- Reduction in spending on Tourism promotion – e.g. No Tourism guide in 2021
- Two fewer summer students to be hired
- Hanging baskets to be installed in 2021
- Management of Santa Claus Parade taken on from Lions – this event expected in 2021
- Christmas Magic (Lights) would continue
- More money transferred to reserves per recommendation in KPMG Report
In the same session, Police also presented their budget but gave very few details since Council has no authority to trim the budget – that’s done by the Police Services Board. Instead they spent most of their time in front of Council severely criticizing the performance of the WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board). Download that presentation here. But Board Chair Dean Pepper did say that the total Police budget would be $6.2M which represented a 3.71% increase from 2020.
What is the “Target”?
Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin has asked for a target budget increase of 0 to 1%. Because growth is currently estimated (by MPAC) to be 1%, my math says that budgets can be 2% higher and result in a levy (tax) increase of 1%. But the target applies to the overall budget – so some budgets (like the Police at 3.7%) could be higher which means that others must be lower.
There’s a disconnect on public expectations of what the three budget meetings were about. To staff they are their chance to request their 2021 budget – as Laurie Wills said, her request was what she truly believed is required plus projects as directed by Council. Generally staff asked for what they thought was necessary and then expect that Council will decide priorities and make any cut backs for them. However, it seems that taxpayers communicated to Council that they expect the proposed budgets to have an increase of no more than the target set by the Deputy Mayor. That is, the proposals should be at the Target level.
On December 22, the draft budget will be put online for Public Review and Feedback. Then on January 21, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Council will review the entire budget and presumably decide on cutbacks. If more time is needed, a follow-up meeting will be held January 22 at 10:00 am. Final approval is scheduled for a meeting on February 16.
- Presentation by Teresa Behan
- Report on highlight of Second Budget meeting (Micro-Transit) – 16 December 2020 – more details about this meeting may be reported in future posts.
- Report on First Budget Meeting – 9 December 2020