Town’s Draft 2021 Operational Budget now online

In this “in-between” time when there is not much news, I think we can afford the time to look at what the Council and staff have proposed as a budget for the coming year.  Unlike the wish lists that were submitted earlier, the draft Operating and Capital budgets that were put online on December 22 seem intended to be realistic.  Also unlike the wish lists, complete details have been provided (well almost).  Omitted are personnel details although it would have been good if “head counts” were included so we can see if more or fewer people are employed.  But sufficient detail is provided that sensible comments on the budget can be made – for example you can comment using the Survey or Forum on “Engage Cobourg” – see links below – or by emailing one or more Councillors (again see links below).

Overview

The key number is the proposed tax increase which is 1.9%.  Total increase to be paid by taxes is 2.5% but new assessment growth pays for some of this and results in the net 1.9% number.  Although the goal set by Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin was 0 to 1%, the Police didn’t help with their net 3.3% increase.  The good news is that revenue (other than taxes) rose by 8.8% to $692,930 which helped bring the submitted budgets down to $19,525,168, a 2.5% increase on 2020’s budget.

Operating Budget highlights

“Protection – Other” is up 9.9% (+$356K), Public Works is up 5.3% (+$236K) but Culture and Community is 12.7% lower (-$225K) and Parks and Recreation is only up 0.2% in a $3.9M budget.  Together with the budgets of smaller departments, the total operating budget is then 3.1% higher.  But because of how Capital is managed and with current low interest rates, the cost of Capital is 9.8% less (-$94K) and this brings the net operating cost increase to 2.5%. 

So let’s look briefly at the major departments. Note that there’s no point in reviewing the Police Budget since it has already been approved by the Police Board.  The Police Budget is a total of $6,473,290 or 3.3% more than the 2020 budget.

Protection – Other (excluding Police)

Most of the increase is for the Fire Department (+$324K) and $253K of that is for payroll and benefits including an increase in overtime from $40K in the 2020 budget to $92K.   An explanatory note says: “Anticipated contractual obligations plus 3 additional probationary firefighters start date July 2, 2021”.

ByLaw enforcement also goes up by $34K to $86K primarily because of more staff.

Public Works

Up 5.3% ($236K).  The most obvious contributor to the increase is Transit which increases by 16.4% (+$189K).  Only $40K of this is for the Micro-Transit Trial.  Costs are determined primarily by the hours of operation of both conventional and Wheels services. 

There were also some ridership numbers in the Transit budget.

  2019 2020
Conventional Ridership  98,795 52,000 Estimate
Wheels Ridership
(Regular Hours)
13,287 13,287 Estimate
Wheels Ridership
(Extended Service after 7:45 pm)
144 May – Dec (8 months) 72 Jan – April (3.5 months)

The Transit expenses requested for 2021 are $1.26M offset by revenue of $316K.  $205K of the revenue is the provincial subsidy.  Only $103K will come from fares – down from $117K in the 2020 budget.

Other Works expenses mostly balanced out – increases were mostly mitigated by decreases.

Affordable Housing Assistance

Not a Major Department but this is a new line item for 2021.

The 2021 draft budget includes $250K to be allocated via the recently approved Community Improvement Plan (CIP).  Of this, $125K is slated to come from Holdco.

Culture and Community

In 2020, the total budget for this department was $2M in costs and $248K in revenue but in 2021, the draft budget is net $1.56M – down 22.9% – and that’s with a 95.6% drop in revenue to $11K.  In 2021, the largest cost in this department is the Library at $950K – up 1.8% from 2020. In the 2020 budget, the second largest cost was the Concert Hall at $376K but with revenues of $181K. Other than administration, the third biggest cost is the Art Gallery – $125K in 2020 and $170K in 2021.  But in 2021 the plan is to keep the Concert Hall closed for 2021 and have fewer special events. Still planned for 2021 are Canada Day Celebrations, a Virtual Sandcastle Festival, Christmas Magic lights, Santa Parade and more – seemingly especially in the second half of the year.

Parks and Recreation

The total Parks and Recreation Budget is $6.4M and this includes the Marina and the Trailer Park (now called the Campground!).  These are both a zero cost to the Town and in fact in 2021 the Trailer Park is planned to provide a net contribution to the Town of $146K.  The biggest cost item is the Administration and Operating budget of $2,2M (net) which is up by 3.2% ($73K) for 2021.  Another big part of the Parks and Recreation Budget is the Community Centre budget of $1.2M which is expected to have $467K less revenue in 2021.  To compensate, expenses were reduced by $453K.  Of this reduction, $274K is savings on payroll and $150K is a transfer from Northam which was not done in 2020.  In addition other areas have reduced expenses. For example, the Seniors activity centre is expected to have 14.7% (-$15K)  less revenue and 19.2% (-$45K)  less expenses for a net reduction of 22.7% (-$30K).  Overall, the Parks and Recreation budget for 2021 is up only  0.2%.

Another Notable item

One of the ways Capital items are funded is a direct charge to the levy (taxes).  In 2020 this was budgeted at $321K but in 2021 it’s shown as $209K.  This reduces the  required levy by $112K or 0.6%.  Without it, the levy increase would be 2.5% instead of 1.9%.  Keeping the amount at around $321K would have reduced the Town’s debt by that amount with the trade-off of higher taxes.

Next Step

The next step in the process is a line by line review of the budget by Council on January 21.  Based on previous experience, I would expect a lively meeting with some Councillors wanting items added and others wanting reductions.   Maybe the final budget will yet meet the goal of 0 to 1% increase.

Watch for the next article in this series which will summarize the draft capital Budget.

Meanwhile  be sure to let Councillors know what you think.

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Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 2:47 pm

I have had comments attributed to me I have never made here with no rebuttal or apology offered. It is offensive to accuse someone of making comments made by others – this certainly casts a shadow on the knowledge of the comments I make.

I joined this Blog as I have always been interested in municipal affairs, voting in each election after reviewing candidates intended direction. I follow municipal, provincial and federal situations and also ensure to write to my representatives of all levels receiving feed back.

If you don’t follow a discussion don’t attribute comments to the wrong person. Myself I am concerned and interested in many issues and selected Cobourg as it then seemed a friendly open town with its appearance of interested citizens in municipal matters. Perhaps I was wrong in some aspects.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 10:05 pm

I have had comments attributed to me I have never made

You have been attributing inaccuracies about me in this very thread, more than once. Stop doing that please.

Liz Taylor
27 December 2020 6:02 pm

I’ve previously suggested many cost saving meaures on previous subject blogs but like here I was voted down almost unamimously such as negotiating wage increases and benefits to zero until the private sector is able to offer closer wage compensation. That is why I find it puzzling why so many are so upset with a 1.9% increase. Although I agree the Fire Department seems to have been greatly rewarded.

Informed
Reply to  Liz Taylor
27 December 2020 6:45 pm

Offering a 0 percent increase in pay and benefits is not negotiating unless you consider negotiating in bad faith as a suggestion. Your idea has no merit.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
27 December 2020 6:51 pm

And why is that Informed? In my last contract I made fabulous money in a muncipal city position. There was no demand on work performance that was up to the individual. I made $12.00 more per hour than in private industry similar positions for a routine job with great benefits, all at tax payers expense. Private industry wages just didn’t compare! You would be drooling to make such money Informed. Private industry – much more complex jobs – I made near that – but that is the key more complex requiring a more broad skills set and promotion by skills not seniority.

Informed
Reply to  Liz Taylor
27 December 2020 9:18 pm

Irrelevant

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
27 December 2020 7:18 pm

Considering the economic situation any civil servant expecting to maintain their current remuneration is “bargaining in bad faith”.

Leweez
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 December 2020 7:37 pm

Don’t expect them to take a wage decrease

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Leweez
27 December 2020 8:00 pm

Leweez the negotiations are past for present wages – it is impossible to reneg on promises but future negotiations should be more in line with private sector wages and benefits – ergo a wage freeze. Contracting out has it’s place in a changing society – no one is trying to get rid of current workers but ask them to be more realistic and reasonable in their wage and benefit requests at tax payer expense. COVID 19 makes it even more important to trying to recover private industry and taxes.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
27 December 2020 8:45 pm

no one is trying to get rid of current workers but ask them to be more realistic and reasonable in their wage and benefit requests at tax payer expense. COVID 19 makes it even more important to trying to recover private industry and taxes.

Indeed!

SW Buyer
Reply to  Informed
27 December 2020 9:05 pm

Informed:
In negotiation, why is a 0% increase in pay and benefits the product of bad faith?
All negotiation results; +, – and 0 are possible and on the table. The final result is a function of economic context, each party’s objectives, the merits of their proposals, negotiation tactics/skill and leverage. For example: in a tight (or declining) economy employees might accept reduced compensation to get job security.


Last edited 8 months ago by SW Buyer
Informed
Reply to  SW Buyer
27 December 2020 9:24 pm

I agree with your explanation. Simply saying 0 % until the private sector catches up doesnt fly. Your reasoning makes more sense.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
27 December 2020 10:24 pm

How about saying “same increase as the private sector”? I suspect that the private sector increase this year will be far less than 0% for most workers.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
28 December 2020 1:57 am

Informed – see my answer to S.W. above – got it covered – hope that now makes sense to you.

It was all long ago Informed but our suggestions assisted in laying a foundation for future Municipal Employee Collective Agreements and now except continuing services little of this matters or effects me at all however in reading the comments about the budget not being reductive enough I threw in my input for cost savings measures for efficient cost effective admin. I look to see if other people have cost saving suggestions – always told offer a solution when a problem is raised. We hoped to avoid job loss for people of long service. Unfortunately have known many people of private industry out the door after years of service and years to go to retirement.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
28 December 2020 6:40 pm

I look forward to more of your input Informed. I am still in doubt of your views. Your typical comment has been agreeing with a particular poster, offering Kudos and thanks or consistently knocking, if not offering your opinion of another. What are your views on the budget and ideas for reduction/increase Informed in more than one word answers.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Informed
Reply to  Liz Taylor
28 December 2020 9:36 pm

I try to stay neutral and offer my opinion . i really dont care if people give me down votes or up votes. Its just an opinion. Doesnt mean Im right. Even if i dont agree with someone I try to see their point of view. Often other people have some good points for me to to consider even if i dont agree. I dont read long winded posts and do find many posts are just the same people complaining of high taxes. Taxes in Cobourg are very high but i still respect the work the Town does and the work Town employees do every day. Its a stressfull time for eveyone and would like to see things improve for the private sector . Like i said before…I believe the Town has a revenue problem and the residential taxpayer cant pay much more. We need new industry in Town. I would like to see a feeder plant for GM Oshawa.Also…when you have a Crown Jewel of a beach,you dont give it away for free.

Last edited 8 months ago by Informed
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
28 December 2020 10:10 pm

Yes Informed it is a stressful time for everyone. My friend’s daughter, age 45 was just laid off after 25 years from her full time minimum wage job, her mother the year before, after 35 years from her minimum wage job, never an increase and a year to go until 65, husband retired and on fixed income. That is one of the reasons I hope tax payer funded organizations would hold the line but they haven’t apparently – contracts ratified and signed from already very well paying jobs – I know I was a municipal worker for 10 years before quitting to see again what private industry had to offer. Sorry make that 13 – returned for a contract – best paid job Informed although some came close in more involved senior work requirements.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
29 December 2020 1:41 am

Informed – One thing thought you desire further businesses yet you say you are not concerned about taxes. Businesses won’t set up in places with high tax rates. Several big name large employers have fled due to taxes and set up in lower taxation areas.

Informed
Reply to  Liz Taylor
29 December 2020 12:09 pm

I never said i wasnt concerned with taxes and any reference to taxes made was in regards to individual property taxes.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Informed
29 December 2020 2:08 pm

Informed – residential and business tax rates are as interrelated as Siamese twins. I’m sorry in the past if I have done something to offend you I have received various less than polite responses – such as you didn’t know union dues came out of your tax and others. Hopefully after speaking with each other you will address my comments with your thoughts not short snarky answers.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
ben burd
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 10:07 am

“such as you didn’t know union dues came out of your tax “ please explain this my union dues came from my paycheque not my income tax!

Last edited 8 months ago by Ben
Liz Taylor
Reply to  ben burd
30 December 2020 12:01 pm

You’ll have to ask Informed Ben – it was his reply to me. Not my comment and I thought the same as you. I had many such comments in the past directed to me from Informed. Jibes more than comments.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
29 December 2020 8:51 pm

Several big name large employers have fled due to taxes and set up in lower taxation areas.

Such as the Peoples Republic of China. The capitalists will sell all the rope needed to hang themselves. So now The West twists slowly in the wind. Wheeeee!

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
29 December 2020 9:28 pm

Such as Quebec!
Oshawa – established feeder plants there for years and years. Right next door to the plant or in town.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 10:59 am

Those feeder plants went where many went, to the glorious Peoples Republic of China and its low taxes, cheap forced labour and absence of transparency. (Study: Nike, Apple, BMW Among 83 Brands Using Uyghur Slave Labor (breitbart.com)) There will be plenty more of that with our spineless leader who openly admires communist tyrants.

Last edited 8 months ago by Wally Keeler
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 December 2020 12:20 pm

The feeder plants are still in Oshawa Wally, my reply wasn’t clear and they are thrilled GM is back up and running happily back in business they were also very affected by the closure.
I guess you have not been following Informed wants GM feeder plants to open here – don’t think so they are already established in Oshawa.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 1:41 pm

“I guess you have not been following…”

Your guess could not be more inaccurate.

We can also assert that many employees commute from Cobourg and area to those feeder jobs in Oshawa. Those employees shop in Cobourg.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 December 2020 1:57 pm

If you have been following Wally then why didn’t you know of Informed desire for establishing a Cobourg GM Feeder Plant? Commuting workers was never part of the discussion. Good for them they shop in Cobourg Wally but we weren’t discussing that.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 6:22 pm

I absolutely did “know of Informed(sic) desire for establishing a Cobourg GM Feeder Plant?” Quit making stuff up about me.

Commuting workers were part of the discussion the moment that I posted it.

I know “we weren’t discussing that.” 

I guess you have not been following Informed.” Do I detect the odor of condescending presumptuousness?

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 December 2020 6:54 pm

Very interesting Wally –
I agree China and India have been found to use very poor factory conditions for employees – my boss said, the place was going bankrupt – shipped all the way from China and still cheaper than Canada. Room for improvement here though – the plant was one ethnic immigrant group all hired through friendship, they formed a union and the plant manager threw up his hands and let them stand around and talk, not work. Job performance in the rest of the company was lacking – sometimes we have only ourselves to blame.
GM after filing for Chapter 1 bankruptcy began seeking suppliers from elsewhere than North America but there are many Oshawa Feeder plants still in Oshawa.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 9:55 pm

I agree China and India have been found to use very poor factory conditions for employees – my boss said, the place was going bankrupt – shipped all the way from China and still cheaper than Canada.

I can’t believe your boss is so ill-informed, that he does not recognize the significant difference between India and China.

“very poor factory conditions” OMG! There are many many far more important comparisons between China and India. Your boss’ description couldn’t be more inaccurate.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 December 2020 7:53 pm

Here is another link Wally outlining Canada is falling behind due to higher tax rates than other countries, not just China.
https://www.mondaq.com/canada/corporate-tax/808638/canadian-tax-rates-how-do-we-compare

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 9:44 pm

Other countries are irrelevent.
China is a racist, genocidal, totalitarian dictatorshit with lethal ambitions to dominate the world. That is why I specify China. Of course you’d have to think globally. To think otherwise is myopic. and this is Cobourg of course.

Informed
Reply to  Wally Keeler
31 December 2020 12:24 pm

China will be offering free vaccines to countries willing to accept them to help shore up their international reputation. They will need alot of help doing so.

Last edited 8 months ago by Informed
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
31 December 2020 7:58 pm

The countries willing to accept the CCP vaccine are poor countries or countries in debt with a Belt&Road project or both.

Their international reputation is gone for a very very long time. Their vaccine is 73.9 % effective.

Of course it still maintains a good reputation with our resident panda hugger.

ben burd
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 10:05 am

I would dispute this statement. High taxes are not the reason we have lost many plants and jobs – NAFTA, relocation to Mexico and other low wage places. High taxes are tolerated if other conditions are good but don’t blame high taxes as THE reason; they are just one of many reasons, but often the most catchy excuse for doing so.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  ben burd
30 December 2020 12:07 pm

Kraft and Heinz are now both located in Quebec Ben – Kraft was located right here and left due to taxes first to the States then to Quebec that offers more business friendly incentives in the way of lower taxes. As well as other manufacturing concerns once in Ontario, some of my friends found their companies moving there as well. One went to Trois Rivers Quebec – others I don’t recall but Quebec was their destination from Ontario. And yes some have gone to Mexico – lower wages fewer unions.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 1:28 pm

“Quebec has had the highest tax burden in Canada since 1982.
If Quebec were a country, its tax burden would be higher than the 34.3 per cent average in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, a group of 35, mostly wealthy, nations. Still, Quebec’s tax burden is lower than in countries like Greece, the Netherlands, Austria and France. In the OECD, Denmark has the highest: 45.9 per cent of GDP.”
Quebec income tax rate the third highest in the OECD: report | Montreal Gazette

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 December 2020 6:52 pm

Thanks for the Link outlining personal income taxes Wally – searched high and low for business taxes – not mentioned.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 9:30 pm

In none of your comments nor Informed’s comments was “business” tax exclusively specififed. Both of you kept it very generic.

MiriamM
Reply to  Liz Taylor
30 December 2020 1:33 pm

I dunno’ about that, Liz. I heard that local Kraft was bought by a big tobacco company which then stripped and sold off the lucrative product lines, sending the rest of the plant into a death spiral. Then, there are the ketchup wars which really underestimated Canadians and their brand of loyalty, including some punchy new tariffs. Welcome back, I guess. I also recall the time that Quebec separation from Canada was in the works and a number of companies planned to leave that province. And, apparently there is product line manufacturing of both Heinz and Kraft that never left Ontario. I also think that a Quebec location is likely closer to ocean type shipping ports without having to use rail, or minimize use of rail, in order to ship overseas to those growing markets.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  MiriamM
30 December 2020 2:00 pm

Many reasons Miriam – but they still chose Quebec to locate to. If you recall Heinz was big in Leamington – when they pulled out French’s came in creating the loyalty ketchup wars as Canadians were upset that Heinz should pull their manufacture from a town that really relied on them and French’s went in to save the day. Heinz gave their reasons as taxes and better business incentives elsewhere for pulling out.
I was told by a long term employee of Kraft in Cobourg Kraft moved first to the States due to taxes here. If bought by a tobacco plant they wouldn’t need the product lines and would not keep it as a food manufacturer – I don’t understand why they would Miriam.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
ben burd
Reply to  Liz Taylor
31 December 2020 6:46 am

Very simple GF in Cobourg had a small production line compared to the same product line in Battle Creek. Economy of scale produced the death spiral not high taxes. In fact if you want to really know how much the Town subsidised GF then look at the way the effluent from the rice line took over most of the capacity of the sewage plant on King St. They got value for the taxes they paid.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  MiriamM
30 December 2020 3:14 pm

I’m unsure of the current ownership of Kraft but years ago it was bought by Philip Morris. See this 2006 story: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=88088&page=1

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
30 December 2020 7:03 pm

$2 million business assist to Heinz to produce in Montreal Ken.
https://www.areadevelopment.com/newsItems/11-18-2020/kraft-heinz-montreal-quebec-canada.shtml

Wally Keeler
Reply to  MiriamM
30 December 2020 6:37 pm

I was contracted to one Canada’s largest financial orgs during that separatist movement. The VPs rented the O’Keefe Centre for 2 hours and invited almost every employee to attend, The corp had hired three of Canada’s outstanding historians to explain the history of Quebec. Marvellous event. In answer to my question, the VPs explained how Canada’s banks transferred their major treasure out of the vaults in Montreal and during the night, a small convoy of armored trucks made their way down the 401 and now the foundational treasures resides deep down below the surface of Toronto.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  SW Buyer
28 December 2020 1:56 am

I proposed Job Security which became part of the CUPE contract and later was greatly expanded upon by the unions which took over. Our input was after 25 years service job security and transfer to any position the employee was able to do for employees should lay off due to contracting out occur. Which I wrote about previously on another subject blog. At that time we were told Amalgamation was brought in to reduce staffing, duplication and save tax payer funds. It did not work out that way as the unions hijacked the amalgamation, a great spate of hiring immediately took place expanding the service then. And so the service grew and grew instead of shrinking. Collective Agreement Town of Cobourg expired July 13, 2020. I have not heard it has been settled at this point.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Leweez
Reply to  Liz Taylor
28 December 2020 7:06 pm

Town of Cobourg Collective agreement has been negotiated and ratified
i believe it was an 18 month contract

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Leweez
28 December 2020 8:32 pm

Thanks for the info Leweez – are the terms available anywhere? Usually it takes a while to see the Collective Agreement – it must be in the Agenda Minutes. Do you know the date it was accepted by Council and passed?

Leweez
Reply to  Liz Taylor
28 December 2020 8:39 pm

I can not remember exactly but believe it was around 3.3% wage increase over 18 months.
I do not recall the date of council’s acceptance

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Leweez
28 December 2020 9:30 pm

The CUPE 25 agreement was approved by Council in their August 31, 2020 session. It gives 1.70% now and 1.50% in August of 2021 (3.226% total).

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 December 2020 9:57 pm

Thank you Ken was just doing a comparison of Old Age Pension increase. $1.12 increase awarded September 30 for an increase for the monthly payment of .005%/ (613.02 to $614.14)

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor
27 December 2020 2:22 pm

Don’t think there is enough information provided. Such as have they?

  • Small changes instituted – Admin – do they bulk paper purchase, the more boxes of paper you buy the lower the price rather than individual department order, waste scrap paper, utilized for daily work notes?, two sided printing? Eddie Shack – “Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves.” Also sets a thinking culture toward savings in overall budget savings
  • Other proactive cost saving measures
  • Transparent accounting practices so the citizens will be assured their tax dollars are effectively used, oversights in place on employee oversights – one has complained here about 2 cruisers at the rink
  • Cobourg is growing, new infrastructure is required, growth has brought further tax payer funded needs.
  • Myself I was surprised with the revenue loss the new tax levy is 1.9% – thought it would be more, although there will be a final review – perhaps more savings can be found
cornbread
27 December 2020 11:37 am

More smoke and mirrors…play with interest rates. When you look closely, PROTECTION in this town is ripping us all off again. Our Cobourg house insurance rates are not lower than Port Hope, so why don’t we switch to a Volunteer Fire Dept. and save a ton of money? The insurance industry feels that Port Hope has equal fire protection to Cobourg…and we now need 3 new bodies??? Policing costs are out of control in Cobourg…time to look at the OPP again…as I recall Mayor Brocanier was in favour of the OPP the last time we looked at the huge saving for Cobourg if we switched. Doubling up of CIP Grants is out of line right now & in future let’s see the full financial disclosure from Holdco and their slush funds.

Sandpiper
Reply to  cornbread
27 December 2020 2:03 pm

Yes I just checked there are 3 Policemen and 2 patrol vehicles there at the Rink garding 12 people only 4 on the ice

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Sandpiper
27 December 2020 5:15 pm

Police or Special Constables? Police cars or Special Constable Vehicles? Regardless of the type of Constable or vehicles present, you have no idea why. The system just started at the rink; perhaps some were there to see what the system entailed before being posted. I wish you would, at times, not be so absolute with your statements. It is hard enough doing the job without being judged or having statements without facts posted on community blogs.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  John Draper
27 December 2020 5:53 pm

Thank you, John. It looks to be a Special Constable vehicle, one Auxillary Police SGT., and one Special Constable. The former is a volunteer, and the latter is paid nowhere near a constable. I viewed it from my balcony; I couldn’t recall if I saw this today or yesterday.

cornbread
Reply to  cornbread
28 December 2020 9:01 am

I believe Port Hope Fire Dept budget for 2020 was $1.5 million…about one half of Cobourg .

Frenchy
27 December 2020 9:44 am

“You need to be signed in to add your comment.”

Why do you have to register to just read the forum on the Engage Cobourg site?

Last edited 8 months ago by Frenchy
Leweez
27 December 2020 9:18 am

I see the fire dept is adding 3 new employees AND more than doubling their overtime budget?
Must be planning on a lot of fires on overtime next year?🤷‍♂️

Last edited 8 months ago by Leweez
Kyle
Reply to  Leweez
27 December 2020 1:41 pm

It is all the pressure from getting paid to sleep and eat after saving a cement foundation. All that paid time off and secondary businesses they just want to share the wealth. Oh, and three more employees will probably mean a new supervisor position.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Kyle
27 December 2020 2:00 pm

The good news is that office space (but not salary and benefits) for the three additional firepersons was hidden in the Chief’s $240K budget item to accommodate his new female fireperson. The additional supervisor will be in the 2022 budget.

Leweez
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 December 2020 2:22 pm

I am positive that every town councillor reads this blog, why is it that every one of them is so afraid of addressing the cost of our Fire department.
I guess I can understand Councillor Darling’s reasons as he is retired from the Fire department.

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
27 December 2020 9:29 pm

What is the cost to the taxpayer per month?

Last edited 8 months ago by Informed
Leweez
Reply to  Informed
27 December 2020 9:34 pm

Much less than Port Hope

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
27 December 2020 10:21 pm

The proposed budget shows $3,000,000 for salaries and benefits or$3,319,619 including operating expenses. So about 13% of your property taxes or $400/household/year, Police is 25.5% of your property taxes so together they are over 38% of your property taxes.

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 December 2020 8:29 am

Thanks

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
28 December 2020 9:55 am

Not sure how you plan on fires but i assume the overtime is alot because they are short staffed? You cant pay 20 people to sit around waiting for fires so that you dont pay overtime. Just speculating.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
28 December 2020 10:23 am

You’ll always need some overtime. The 2021 budget includes $90K for overtime ($40K budgeted for 2020 but $92K spent). Paying a little overtime is far less costly than hiring 3 more firepersons at $90K or more each. What is the justification for the additional staff?

The lack of overtime control and hiring a female fireperson without an ability to accommodate her seem like management failures. I guess that paying $267,184 + benefits for a Fire Chief and Deputy Chief is insufficient.

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 December 2020 11:16 am

You make some good points Ken. I did read awhile ago that no additional staff has been added for about 30 years other than to replace fireman that retire. I dont believe its easy to attract and train volunteers and employers are less likely to let them leave for calls. Not sure what the Chief and Deputy do but Port Hope has a full time Chief and Deputy.

Ken Strauss
27 December 2020 9:01 am

John wrote:

Of this reduction, $274K is savings on payroll and $150K is a transfer from Northam which was not done in 2020.

How is spending the same $150K but taking the money from another department a “savings”? Like much in the budget, this seems a blatant example of robbing Peter to pay Paul and calling the theft a “savings”.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 December 2020 11:08 am

would this be considered a Ponzi maneuver if this was done in the private business world ?

Bryan
Reply to  Sandpiper
27 December 2020 10:31 pm

No. It is simply a funding allocation.
Ken’s reference to “theft” is somewhat over the top. I don’t recall the Northam transfer being referred as a “saving” in the budget documentation. Perhaps this is JD’s phrasing.

ben burd
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 December 2020 4:26 pm

Did you dig deeper into the figures to see if the 150K is an extra amount from Holdco, be the forensic accountant you pretend to be and look at last years transfer from Holdco to General Revenue and this years, If it is the same and the 150K is in the budget then it is not a financial theft, just a responsible transfer.

Leweez
Reply to  ben burd
27 December 2020 4:34 pm

Hi Ben, were you at one time a board member at Holdco/ Lakefront Utilities?
if so, why did you leave?

Ben burd
Reply to  Leweez
27 December 2020 8:11 pm

I was not reappointed I advocated for public nonprofit broadband and that position offended Mr Delaney the then chairman

ben burd
Reply to  Ben burd
27 December 2020 8:17 pm

edit: Delaney should be Delanty, but thanks for the memory Leweez.

Leweez
Reply to  ben burd
27 December 2020 8:29 pm

You are welcome😀
would love to hear your thoughts on Lakefront now, what you think they are doing right or wrong.
is it a viable business for the Town to be owning, etc
thank you

ben burd
Reply to  Leweez
28 December 2020 6:29 am

Leweez as one of the few people who use their real name I also publicly admit that I am one of the few avowed people who believe in public ownership, a mixed market, trade unions and most of the other values constantly denigrated on this site.

My opinion of the LUSI has not changed since the Council after the one that I was on (for nine years) sold off the PUC. It was done as a result of the “Commonsense Revolution”, an oxymoron if there ever was one. There were a couple of models available to the Town in the conversion process and as the non-profit design was so unwieldy and difficult to establish the Town adopted the current model. That model worked well until the financial arrangements were fiddled with by convincing the Town, by people who contribute to this site, that the LUSI was making too much of a financial contribution to its shareholders. One can never make too much money for the shareholders and this case if you consider what the community has done with the millions of dollars of dividend money, the funding of the hospital for one the funding of the CCC you can actually see dollars at work.

Have the rates gone down as a result of this financial meddling?

So my opinion of LUSI is that it works, keeps the rates down and Cobourg should own it in perpetuity, after all “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”

Of course you asked my opinion I now await the onslaught of vitriol from all those who disagree. Just count the thumbs down for this one Leweez!

Last edited 8 months ago by Ben
Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben burd
28 December 2020 9:11 am

Ben, no vitriol but a correction to your “logic”. You conveniently omitted the fact that LUI’s profit, used for good deeds such as NHH, comes from overcharging the residents of Cobourg. Yet another example of deceiving the tax payers with a slush fund based on the Peter/Paul plan mentioned earlier.

Also, you should correct your references to LUSI versus LUI.

ben burd
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 December 2020 10:22 am

Overcharging the users – have you noticed any drop in rates now that you have fiddled with the profit?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben burd
28 December 2020 10:30 am

Please explain how I have fiddled with their profit? The Ontario Energy Board determines the allowed profit for utilities and Lakefront has always charged the maximum allowed.

ben burd
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 December 2020 11:44 am

I ask you again Ken now that the repayment schedule on the loan and the reduced dividends kick in – as a result of your lobbying Council and they foolishly and politically going along, have come into force “Have the rates gone down?”

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben burd
28 December 2020 12:59 pm

Ben, to clarify:
I lobbied Council in favour of two beneficial actions. Council approved a third, fiscally irresponsible, choice which has no benefit for Cobourg residents. LUI was and still is making the maximum OEB allowed loan charge for local hydro users. Why would you expect rates to decrease?

Bryan
Reply to  ben burd
28 December 2020 1:06 pm

Ben, in 2019, LUI came to Council proposing a reduced interest rate on the $7M demand loan. The reason for the request was that LUI had a cash shortfall problem due in part, to the payment of 7.25% loan interest to the Town, but only able to claim 4.5% as an expense for cost of service, the benchmark that the OEB uses for rate setting. In late 2016, the OEB reduced the allowable interest rate from 4.5% to 3.72%, further compounding LUI’s cashflow problem. During the 2016 LUI-OEB rate hearing, the CTA correctly predicted that LUI’s cashflow problem would be further aggravated if LUI did not reduce the loan interest rate. The CTA recommended 3%. LUI rejected this. LUI had already reduced its dividend to HOLDCO in an effort to conserve cash. The interest (7.25%-3.72%) in excess of the OEB’s 3.72% interest allowed had no effect on LUI’s service rates. In 2019, the CTA proposed to Council that LUI and the Town agree to convert the $7 demand note to equity (prefs or common shares). In doing so, the interest expense would be eliminated and LUI’s cashflow would improve. Further, the OEB’s 3.72% allowed interest component imbedded in LUI’s service rates, would no longer be a factor and LUI’s service rates could have been reduced if LUI chose to do so. Instead, LUI and Town staff persisted with their inferior no-win plan and Council agreed. So Ben, the CTA did not lobby Council to reduce the demand note interest rate, a no-win plan that had no potential for reducing LUI’s service rates The proposal Council accepted was the one proposed by LUI and Town staff. The CTA’s win-win debt swap plan would have improved LUI’s cashflow and had the potential to reduce LUI’s service rates if LUI chose to do… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Bryan
Liz Taylor
Reply to  ben burd
28 December 2020 1:29 pm

Ben I do not denigrate trade unions My family of Scottish descent were trades people for generations, my father’s family came to Canada before emigrating back to Scotland from 1929 to 1937. My grandfather a trades person working for Canada Iron was never out of work in the 30s and paid a fair wage. Belonging to private industry trade unions has a long family history. I have not seen anyone bashing trade unions nor have I ever done so – don’t know where you get that.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liz Taylor
Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben burd
27 December 2020 4:42 pm

Ben, I’ve never claimed to be a forensic accountant nor even an accountant; I am merely an overtaxed resident.
It is common sense, lacking in some of the posts here, that the source of funds does not change the fact that an expenditure is not a “savings” regardless of the source of the funds.

Bryan
Reply to  ben burd
27 December 2020 8:40 pm

Ben,
Ken correctly referenced JD’s article statement “… To compensate, expenses were reduced by $453K. Of this reduction, $274K is savings on payroll and $150K is a transfer from Northam which was not done in 2020….”

Note that the $150K funding is from Northam, not Holdco.

In terms of Town funding, Northam and Holdco are similar as regards the end result, but quite different organizationally. Northam is a Town business unit…a Town department. Holdco is an incorporated company of which the Town is the majority shareholder.

Ken’s main point is that the “transfer” of $150K from Northam does not reduce the expense. It funds the payment for it. In this context, “transfer” means PAY FOR. It is not a “saving”.

If you buy something for $1,000 and pay $500 on VISA and the remaining $500 by cash, the Visa transfer hasn’t “saved” you anything. Your purchase still cost you $1K.

The Town has numerous sources of funding including: property taxes (PT levy), Business Unit profits (Northam, VPC), grants (Prov & Fed), user fees, development charges, interest (LUI and bank) and dividends (Holdco). All of these provide funding sources to pay for the Towns expenses (operations and capital). Funding expenses from any one or combination of these does not result in “savings”.

Last edited 8 months ago by Bryan
ben burd
Reply to  Bryan
28 December 2020 6:16 am

Last point, if the money had not been transferred from Northam and the budget maintained the taxpayers would be be paying 150K more this year – 1% increase in taxes. I don’t care where the money comes from it is new money to the Budget. Therefore if the money comes in it is 1% that the taxpayers do not pay! Ergo savings to the people!

Just common sense!

Last edited 8 months ago by Ben