Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin chaired the two-day Budget review Council meetings and hoped to reduce the levy increase impact of 6.7% to 5.3% per Council’s target. But by 4:00 pm on the second day, she expressed her frustration that Councillors kept adding amounts that cancelled any reductions. She said “we need to do better”; her comments seemed to blame councillors and Mayor Henderson then told her to “Watch your comments”! He said that they were all trying to do the right thing. When the two days’ work was complete, the budget increase was 6.3% and with a growth amount of 2.2%, the tax levy increase would be 4.1%. In a recorded vote, Suzanne and Councillor Chorley voted against approving the result of the two day meeting. Final approval will take place at the next regular Council meeting on December 13.
Over the two days, a lot of items were discussed – both Operating and Capital as well as the Community Grants reported here on Thursday.
Here is my list of significant items:
- Council are committed to implementing the CAO’s recommended re-organization although some staff would be hired earlier and some later. Hiring of the Manager of the Office of the CAO would be deferred but the Manager of Transformation would be hired. There will be no Deputy Director of Community Services with the number of managers in that Department reducing from five to four – that is, Community Services functions of Marketing, Events and Tourism will be consolidated with the Concert Hall.
- The Town is currently actively recruiting for two new Directors: Community Services and Planning and Development Services and hopes they will start January 1, 2022.
- The Capital spending on the Harbour was approved with this timeline:
East Pier Repairs & Enhancements
West Breakwater Rehab
The CAO was asked to organize a plan to try to get funding from the Provincial and/or Federal Governments.
- Councillors were surprised to hear of the need to spend $260K in 2022 and about $2M in 2024 to fix the Shoreline erosion at Monks Cove. The $260K was approved.
- Council agreed that there should be a reserve fund to provide for Downtown parking when existing parking lots leased from private owners are developed. The plan would be a multi-storey facility on Covert Street.
- Council approved $50K for design of a new admin building for the Campground – plus electrical upgrades. Construction would be in 2023 at an estimated $750K. There was no discussion of whether the Campground was a good idea.
Other notable items
- Two new full-time Firefighters will be hired.
- Brian Darling is unhappy with the over $1M cost of transit for so few riders but there were no changes made.
- Lifeguards are once again in the budget for both Centennial pool and the beach. Council had a long debate about liability and whether lifeguards should be provided at all. The YMCA were asked to report on what they do in a typical year. This may be reviewed again later.
- Major events in 2022 will include Canada Day celebrations, Christmas Magic and most others but there will be only a scaled down Sand Castle Festival.
- Plans to repurpose the Beach Canteen into enhanced washrooms are proceeding – RFPs for Food Trucks will be issued soon.
- The Accessible dock had a budget of $30K but this did not seem enough. Council approved up to $50K but user groups could fund-raise for more if they wanted an upgrade.
- The Marina Security Gates were approved as was the Marina electrical upgrade.
- Staff are looking at increasing CCC fees, parking fees, Marina fees, Campground fees and others. Reports will come to Council soon.
- Staff are working on (separate) MOUs for the Concert Band and Venture 13 partners.
- Adam Bureau pushed to add summer students to work as Tourism Ambassadors but his motion failed – other Councillors did not want the extra cost.
- Although a new Manager of Economic Development was approved, it was also proposed that the new hire prepare the Economic Development Strategic Plan instead of having a consultant do it.
- The AGN budget was reduced from $175K to $150K but approved for 3 years at that amount.
- Plans will be prepared in 2022 for both a new skateboard park as well as 3 Pickle Ball courts. Build would be in 2023.
- There is a renewed commitment ($10K) to addressing the Opioid crisis even though the County is currently working on that. There was no discussion on what the $10K would be used for.
- Councillor Chorley moved to increase the tree planting budget from $25k to $50K – her motion carried.
- The suggested Outdoor Skating Rink at Sinclair Park would cost $8K but was approved subject to funds being raised by Community Donations.
- Budgets were given preliminary approval by a vote of 5 – 2 with Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and Councillor Emily Chorley voting against.
- Operating Budget: $26,352,155 – a 6.3% increase over 2021. With a 2.2% growth per MPAC numbers, this translates to an increase in the tax levy of 4.1% over last year. That is, the Cobourg part of your taxes will go up 4.1% unless Councillors make a change at the last minute.
- Capital Budget: $15,561,973 – the 2021 Capital budget was $8.4M and in 2020 it was $9.1M.
On Town Web site
- Draft Operating Budget – as reviewed during meetings
- Draft Capital Budget – as reviewed during meetings – Note incorrect inclusion of East Pier Repairs & Enhancements work in 2022.
Earlier Posts on Cobourg News Blog
- Council decides on Community Grants – 25 November 2021
- Capital Budget Requests for 2022 – 11 November 2021
- Update on Organization Review – 28 October 2021