Over $1 Million Tax Increase for Organization Changes

Over the past 12 months, the Town of Cobourg has commissioned studies of Service Levels (What the Town Does) and Organization (How the Town does it).  Both were done by consultant KPMG with the Service level report being delivered last November.  At Monday’s Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council received the report on Organization review in three parts: a full confidential report received in closed session, a Public report available to the public (see link below) and a presentation to Council by the consultant in open session (also in link below).  An initial early review was presented a few weeks ago and this highlighted some problems such as morale, poor management of priorities and poor delivery of services.  The “final” report offers some solutions but it will be costly.  It’s also a Draft so there might be minor changes.

Scope of Organization Review

  • The Town’s organizational structure and how it supports the effective and efficient delivery of services;
  • Staffing, including the number and roles of Town employees; and
  • The Town’s internal processes for service delivery and decision-making (so-called ways of working).

Key Findings

  • Staffing has not been increased when additional tasks were assigned to a person or department
  • Insufficient staffing has meant some strategic priorities are not getting done (e.g. economic development)
  • A survey of residents got 219 responses and “… the survey results reflect a general absence of focus on customer service, which likely reflects limitations on available resources. Specifically, we note that the Town does not appear to have designated a member of its management team as having overall responsibility for customer service (the strategic plan identifies this as a responsibility for all divisions).”
  • A survey of Town employees (60% responded) “identified an overall low level of morale on the part of Town employees”.
  • The Town faces risks of litigation and costs in the procurement process since it does not have standardized procurement documents or processes for monitoring contractual compliance.  There are also cybersecurity risks.
  • Processes and Policies need improvement – e.g.
    • The Town currently lacks a human resources information system (“HRIS”), which requires staff to manually accumulate data, diverting them from undertaking higher value personnel services.
    • Directors have purchasing authority limited to $5,000 but this should be $50,000
    • Too many decisions must come to Council for approval instead of being delegated to staff
  • The Town is expected to grow quickly and there will be an increased demand for services. This will require increased resources for planning, procurement and contract administration.  On Sept 20 at a regular Council meeting, Ted Williams submitted correspondence that pointed to likely growth that far exceeded Cobourg’s Official Plan (see links below).

Recommended Actions

Four types of changes are recommended:

  • Staffing adjustments (increases) – 13 additions: 7 managers and 6 others.  Currently there are 128 staff (excluding police, fire suppression, training and prevention, library and conservation authority).
  • Organizational Realignment – add Office of the CAO, separate out long range planning, separate infrastructure planning from executing projects, create new Legislative Services Department and move emergency management, by-Law enforcement and Economic Development into changed/new departments.
  • Changes to policy environment and decision-making forums – revise delegation of authority;  revise process for policy development; consider using committees instead of Councillor coordinator roles – mostly because this is not common practice in Ontario. Oscar suggested that this be after the next Council election – I note that the County recently re-organized to use this method; and revise medium to long-term strategies to ensure alignment of Town operations with Council and Community expectations.
  • Changes to operating processes and ways of working – Develop business cases for key technology enablers (HRIS, e- Permitting, web-based applications, e-commerce) and implement process improvements

Organization Charts

Current Organization

Proposed Organization

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin asked for more detail on why each new position was necessary.

Cost

KPMG says that:

Currently, in order to meet the needs of its residents, the Town budgeted in excess of $40 million for the delivery of municipal services (excluding capital and debt servicing costs), of which $24.8 million is funded through municipal taxes.
AND
The suggested additions to staffing levels, as well as the proposed realignment of the Town’s organizational structure, are expected to result in an increase in the Town’s salary costs of $1,100,000, with an additional $330,000 in associated benefit costs. For certain positions, some or all of the associated costs can be funded through user fees as opposed to the municipal levy, with the estimated levy requirement amounting to $1,040,000.

I calculate that the impact on taxes would be 1.04/24.8 or a 4.2% hit on our taxes – no doubt spread over several years although the implication is that most new hiring should be done in 2022.

However, no changes can be done sooner than 2022 due to the required budget decisions.

KPMG suggests that Council need to consider:

  • Affordability for ratepayers
  • Enhancements to employee morale and customer services
  • Cost-benefit result from improved risk management
  • Impact on accountability and transparency
  • Impact on value-for-money for municipal services
  • Impact on services and service levels

Exactly.

The next step is for the CAO to provide a report on what the actual changes should be and in what timeframe. Tracey Vaughan promised that her implementation report would be done before the Committee of the Whole meeting on October 25.

Links

Earlier Reports on Cobourg News Blog

Print Article: 

 

101 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Johanne
13 October 2021 9:49 am

We are saying often that success comes with good management. If you were part of a large structure your experience is accountable. The definition of a manager is a person responsible for supervising and motivating employees. Managers are the ones directing the progress of an organization. (Not to drop on the desk a problem and leave). This is a business notion. According to the AMO municipal training book councillors should be managers. If you don’t believe me have an expert to answer your questions.

Sharing information is important for the whole success of a business. (Contrary to paying an expensive organization who will demand to be informed !) Empty power and lack of knowledge makes your next bill very costly for many Christmases ahead. Respect the structure and demand to be informed just like this company would.
Again our blog is not under the form of investigative journalism with letters to the Editor but we are very thankful for it. When Metroland was King I often wondered if they had the gratitude of the public..

Last edited 13 days ago by Johanne
Kevin
8 October 2021 5:37 pm

Why the ‘overall low level of morale’? Town employees may not all live in Cobourg but do live in Canada. They have job security, are paid well with good benefits. There are lists of tens of thousands of people wanting to get into Canada. Most of them would have very high morale if they had the opportunity to work for the town. Today I saw a couple pushing a shopping cart with some empties in it. They stopped at a garbage bin looking for more. If they have low morale it may be from limited options. Anybody that works for the town and does not like their job can quit and start a business or get a new job. There are many places currently hiring. But, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” You may find working condition are worse in the private sector or that you are not able to be self employed. If the low morale is the result of harassment or abuse at work then report it and get help. Town employees, be happy for what you have because you are much better off than most people in this world.

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  Kevin
8 October 2021 6:14 pm

Kevin, on one hand, I agree that anyone with a good job in Canada is indeed fortunate.

However, it can be tremendously de-motivating when you have to simply smile and nod at the endless parade of virtue signalling and those “busy being busy” without putting forth meaningful productivity.

Last edited 18 days ago by Mrs. Anonymous
Dubious
Reply to  Mrs. Anonymous
8 October 2021 6:43 pm

However, it can be tremendously de-motivating when you have to simply smile and nod at the endless parade of virtue signalling and those “busy being busy” without putting forth meaningful productivity.

Mrs. Anonymous, why are you so negative about most politicians, charities/NGOs and other parasites.?

Scottie
Reply to  Kevin
8 October 2021 6:52 pm

I wonder if the “low morale” is because some people, in some departments are finding themselves with not enough to do — resulting in “busy work” (i.e. you sit at your desk and try and look busy even though you don’t have enough to do) and the opposite would be those people who are continually over-worked and scrambling trying to meet deadlines. That’s why I suggested in a previous post, that the whole organization needs to be looked at from the standpoint of doing internal transfers of work and personnel, from one department to another. It can be VERY stressful to not have enough to do and put in your 8 hours– and on the other hand, VERY stressful as well to be overworked and look at people in other departments who seem to be under-utilized. Needs to be looked at…

cornbread
7 October 2021 2:12 pm

How much did KPMG get for this consulting job…anyone know to make it public? I bet it was at least $25,000 if not more.

Cobourg taxpayer
7 October 2021 2:04 pm

Why does the town of Cobourg need 7 more managers? Who are they managing? The 6 new others? Does the title manager imply big salaries? It does to me. Whenever I see a Roads, Parks , Sewer, or Public Works truck on my street they are sitting with the truck running staring at their phones. Town hall has been semi closed for months and not one person has been laid off just reassigned. To do what exactly? Morale is low, why in the world is that? Full salary, benefits, pension and sick days and next to no oversight that causes low morale? I remember one director requesting more staff at a budget meeting as 25% are off sick at one time and the department can’t function. More efficiency with existing staff is what I would like to see managed by the new CAO. Maybe some sharing of staff between the town and county as well. Don’t hire more staff.

Johanne
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
8 October 2021 12:36 am

Excellent rationale Cobourg Taxpayer. If we cannot administer a respectable small town with our budget, staff and councillors we’ll need a different style of decision makers. I read in one paragraph about Procurement. It is the process of purchasing goods or services in reference to business spending, this is costly. I also had a private committee of professionals to assist me as a councillor. Next time more business experienced people should run with their own sounding board. Any team should be stronger with a free backup. We need capable people to deliver what we need and run OUR CORPORATION more responsibly. It is not a part time job or a “social function” bringing extra pocket money anymore. Time has changed. Ask how to save one million dollars to the forerunners.▪︎What will it be according to ancient Greek history? Oligarchy or democracy? ▪︎🏛

Last edited 18 days ago by Johanne
Johanne
Reply to  Johanne
10 October 2021 9:13 am

I really feel cheated from our failing system. Without this blog we are not informed at all. This is not good government.

Last edited 16 days ago by Johanne
marya
7 October 2021 7:43 am

Staff morale is poor almost everywhere. There are few employees who admit to liking their jobs (and even their employers).

Johanne
Reply to  marya
7 October 2021 1:25 pm

I believe mediocrity is taking place everywhere. A fact. Another one is that the more staff, the more managers you need. The more managers the more head structure is needed at a heavier top level. That means more money from tax contributions and an inverted proportion of control. Not the best results to become progressive to be expansive. Bigger is not smarter. There are studies to prouve it. In Coburg Germany they elect one mayor and two others are volunteers.

Last edited 19 days ago by Johanne
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Johanne
8 October 2021 8:59 am

“I believe mediocrity is taking place everywhere.” In Cobourg, mediocrity prevailed with the Seven Feathers Crosswalk. The actual image of an orange field with seven white luminous feathers representing Seven Virtues is a sublime work of art. It is iconic. It’s not easy to create something iconic. It requires a reduction of all clutter and add-ons to present the core idea: Seven Virtues. It is a brilliant and powerful, and evocative image. It deserves to be treated with all those virtues in mind: love, respect, courage, honesty, humility, truth and wisdom. It cost over a $1000 to apply it to the street pavement. It cost some more after a botch, then some more to build it back better. And the Town will pay a thousand plus year after year in perpetuity to maintain that crosswalk. It was a cookie-cutter project. The template for the project already existed. It was also a copy-cat project. A few other municipalities had duplicate crosswalks, so there is nothing unique nor distinctive to Cobourg’s presentation. Same old same old so to speak. I wonder if the art experts of the Art Gallery of Northumberland were consulted on the aesthetic appropriateness of placing such a deeply meaningful work of art on the pavement for vehicles to wipe their dirty tires on it in perpetuity as the people of Cobourg drive over it to the liquor store. And repair costs in perpetuity. And does it demonstrate respect for the Seven Virtues? There was no time for citizen input for this project. It was a total administrative project. Alternative suggestions were never asked for and have been roundly rejected. No exploration of ideas — just the cookie cutter copy-cat approach is good enough for Cobourg. Here’s an idea. Purchase a light/laser projector of 5500+ lumens at $2500 and… Read more »

Gerinator
Reply to  Wally Keeler
8 October 2021 3:29 pm

Totally agree. Lazy methodology and lazy implementation. Quick fix, quick waving of the flag. Definite lack of respect.

Gerinator
6 October 2021 8:37 pm

My first observation of the new Org is that Communications (Mgr + staff) have been totally left out of the new org. Disappointing given past issues where comms with citizens has been a major failure and sometimes obstructive. If I’ve missed this position plse let me know. In reviewing the Org’l Review (pgs 9-13) I come up with 4 thoughts: Silos, overlapping functions, creation of management positions where qualified specialists (new hires if must) would do and again no reference to Communications. Should/when the expansion occur then these specialists could assume management roles with new supporting cast. Why would we need a By-Law manager and Econ Dev manager. The former is very specific and the latter has been tried too many times. Long range Planning Managers (2) can be cut down to 1 with the support of qualified specialists. Council Sequins question is a very valid one – “why each new position was necessary”.

Agree with Scottie – there appears to be no mention of re-assignment or re-training of current staff to take on other responsibilities. Agree with Ben/Bryan assessments – that the crux of the issue: Money and will this new org deliver on necessary infrastructure and must have projects without having to spin on Adult fitness park, accessible housing (county responsibility) and other no meat/potatoes issues.

Finally with respect to the recommendation that “Directors have purchasing authority limited to $5,000 but this should be $50,000” I vote no. Recall these are the same people that pushed the Travel Lift (still are as far as I can tell) and the Abbott street sidewalk. Judgement is lacking in my view.

Last edited 19 days ago by Gerinator
Concerned
Reply to  Gerinator
7 October 2021 10:29 am

How can there be training when council cuts the training budget each year?

Johanne
Reply to  Concerned
10 October 2021 9:50 am

ALTERNATIVE . A lot of you don’t want to spend foolishly your money, like Wally said.. The staff is asking for help. Councillors are supposed to be ACTING managers. Other than the price tag of hiring staff what else do they know from a contractual point of view ? There is a cheap solution but..

I am not prepared to pay by such difficult times. Council should share communication. The closed portfolio should be on a shelve for a time, the pandemic at least. A motion presented on the next council meeting advocating a budget restraint and a temporary urgent reformed portfolio should be prepared as a next
item of business. Next step: our councillors should not be impeached to use our town lawyer and the interested ones should see him in person (like I did in the past if needed). Make a motion with a recorded vote accordingly. Get support councillors and prepare your questions ahead of time for a session with him and report to our blog owner. We want results! Make some intelligent savings and later adjust with the CAO !

Last edited 16 days ago by Johanne
Gerinator
Reply to  Johanne
11 October 2021 1:27 pm

Small point “Councillors are supposed to be ACTING managers” is not accurate. They manage themselves, their coordinators role and that is pretty much all. They provide direction to the CAO. The management of staff, where the personnel-buck stops, is with the CAO

Johanne
Reply to  Gerinator
13 October 2021 8:36 am

ERROR ON decision making. Councillors are elected to be informed and make an informed decision for all items of business. The municipal training book refers to their role as managers as well, yes managers. They cannot fix things without being a manager. Did you obtain a copy of it? Did you question them about it? No. You won’t get far either. I did my homework even with municipal lawyers years ago, one of them was a Queen’s park specialist. Information in a system is important $ and be professional in decision making is another important factor (favoritism is not acceptable). When you accept mediocrity in a system you are doomed. Our taxes are as heavy as Toronto taxes: this was a professional fiscal opinion and it is still not corrected. To be informed is not a choice. Some people will have to move out of their house and more vagrants will come to yours.

Last edited 13 days ago by Johanne
Johanne
Reply to  Gerinator
13 October 2021 1:21 pm

We are passed germinating we have to enjoy what we sowed. Success comes with good management and a follow up. If you were part of a large structure your experience is accountable. We all know the definition of a manager : a person responsible for supervising and motivating employees. Managers are the ones directing the progress of an organization. (Not to drop a problem on the employees desk and leave). This is a business notion. According to the AMO municipal training book councillors should be managers, ask an AMO expert to answer your questions.

Sharing information is important for the financial success of a corporation. Now you want to pay an expensive organization who will demand to be informed 🤣 !
Empty power and lack of knowledge will make your next bills very costly for many Christmases ahead. Demand to be better informed, free of charge, just like this company will ask and profit from you. They may not disclose to your councillors. Contract law is not a forte in our team so why paying another structure next to the head of council?

If you don’t have balance sheets with results from other municipalities don’t venture.

Again our blog is not under the form of investigative journalism with letters to the Editor but we are very thankful for it. When Metroland was King of our local media I often wondered if they had the gratitude of the public.. I had my own camera and blog, professional help in high finance with Queen’s Park. You were lucky.

Last edited 13 days ago by Johanne
Johanne
Reply to  Gerinator
16 October 2021 11:11 am

In general the CAO must act as a mediator and negotiator between Council and the administrative branch. In leading up, the CAO inspires confidence through expertise, objectivity, and professionalism. Our council members have a duty to exercise a role of managers according to AMO. Please inquire this is not hearsay.

Last edited 10 days ago by Johanne
Bryan
Reply to  Johanne
16 October 2021 1:56 pm

Johanne:

The CAO is the ranking executive officer of the Corporation (Town) and is responsible for ALL Town operations in accordance with the Town’s policies and programs as approved by Council

From the Municipal Act
229 Chief administrative officer
A municipality may appoint a chief administrative officer who shall be responsible for:
(a) exercising general control and management of the affairs of the municipality for the purpose of ensuring the efficient and effective operation of the municipality; and
(b) performing such other duties as are assigned by the municipality. 2001, c. 25, s. 229

The AMO is a lobby group not a statutory authority. AMO’s role is purely advisory. It has no authority to direct a municipality or Council members. The statutory authority rests with the Province as outlined in the Municipal Act.

Council has no operational or day to day management role.
Council is responsible for vision, policy, oversight and public representation.
Council’s primary “management” role is oversight as outlined in 224 (d, d-1, e)

An individual Council member cannot direct staff to do anything. Only Council (as a whole) can direct staff.

Role of council
224 It is the role of council,
(a)  to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality;
(b)  to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality;
(c)  to determine which services the municipality provides;
(d)  to ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council;
(d.1)  to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality;
(e)  to maintain the financial integrity of the municipality; and
(f)  to carry out the duties of council under this or any other Act. 2001, c. 25, s. 224; 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 99.

Last edited 10 days ago by Bryan
Johanne
Reply to  Bryan
20 October 2021 11:43 pm

Bryan, You can read the Bible all you want…but the world is about sins. The problem is shadowing everyone. It is unnecessary to hold patriarchs’ tone with bolded shouting letters either ! Listen, whoever you are councillors have not reached their perimeters, or goals, three told me already. Others are not comfortable communicating. Their full roles are out of their reach, just like in my days, my booklet was distributed by AMO. Comprenez ? In a pandemic mediocrity at the centre of the world, scandals are devouring one half of it and bankruptcy the other. How are we different? ▪︎transparency…😷 is important but a problem. Some of us do see it with our eyes wide shut. Logic 1. ▪︎The xpense you seem to defend with the organization will demand data in order to perform.They have their terms and conditions, unlike councillors operating a portfolio secluded from home. This was Logic 2 now logic 3: ■I pay, like others, quite a round sum of taxes yearly to have no amenities, defend my eroded safety year after year, see the devaluation of my property, and some brutal architecture rising in a town who refuses to call themselves a historic town. We face a 4.5% cost of living increase, a great aging population in need of more care and the cost of food will skyrocket very shortly on the eve of a cruel winter with more taxes on services. Electricity and fuel are not cheap, your vehicles and your houses need expensive preparation for a change of season. Medical supplies are not a detail in your wallet either. I feel I can criticize the system, or their players because I am paying them all. I can say no to an increase of devouring taxes. I was never a yes man. I had opportunities… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Johanne
Johanne
Reply to  Johanne
25 October 2021 5:46 am

If people on the blog are not affected financially but obsessed to get results with the organization, it should be proposed that :
1. a public vote be obtained to agree on it ; or
2. Pay yourselves the bill and save a lot of money to us taxpayers.

If you disagree, find a municipality where this organization was beneficial with proof and costs.

Last edited 1 day ago by Johanne
Gerinator
Reply to  Bryan
22 October 2021 2:01 pm

Thanks Bryan.

Johanne
Reply to  Gerinator
23 October 2021 12:13 pm

There is a lot of dilettantism instead of professionalism. It is a mediocre lifestyle to be surrounded by patriarchal and divisive people who will constantly offer nothing but more spending. I hope women will vote having this in mind.

Bryan
Reply to  Johanne
23 October 2021 12:58 pm

Johanne:

Dilettantism:

  • a lack of the level of skill associated with an expert or professional
  • having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge

You wrote: ” There is a lot of dilettantism instead of professionalism…” Exactly what do you mean? Who is “guilty” of this? Please provide examples.

Are you suggesting that Town staff and Council are
“…patriarchal and divisive people, who constantly offer nothing but more spending…”

You further wrote: “…I hope women will vote having this in mind…” Why only women. do they have some special insight in this that men don’t have?

Johanne
Reply to  Bryan
24 October 2021 12:46 pm

Learn how to think.

Bryan
Reply to  Johanne
24 October 2021 1:23 pm

Johanne,

I suggest you take your own advice.
You put forward some ideas and when asked for clarification you take an “attack the messenger” stance, clearly indicating that you can’t support your original comment.

Johanne
Reply to  Bryan
24 October 2021 4:16 pm

Critical thinking (I know you will look google) is the opposite of regular, everyday thinking. It is a respectable and responsible way of presenting arguments. I am terribly coherent. I see who understands from my paragraphs to the other.

You have to employ intellectual tools to reach more accurate ideas than your brain would on a daily basis. “Schools don’t teach them” said Einsten.

I am pleased you can learn what is cognitive thinking. Again your voice is personal, angered and dictates to a “wife”. It happens when other people are different and opinionated. But you don’t have to agree with me Bryan, present your own arguments instead. This is a public blog and the readers should not obtain personal information or pinpoint at an individual and pass it to the scrutiny of a boys’ club.. NO. Nobody is perfect in life and we are questioning the system in order to avoid the same irresponsible, costly mistakes. I saw similar situations in the 70’s. This problem is never new. ~ It is not unreasonable to ask of you Bryan to become more professional and respectful in the future. Thank you to keep your emotions in check.

Last edited 2 days ago by Johanne
Frenchy
Reply to  Johanne
25 October 2021 8:41 am

I am terribly coherent.

Johanne, you are anything but coherent. I can barely struggle through your posts.

Dubious
Reply to  Frenchy
25 October 2021 12:08 pm

Agreed. Completely incoherent! More thought and fewer words might help.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Frenchy
25 October 2021 1:29 pm

Johanne:
Totally agree with Frenchy and Dubious.
You may have some worthy content to offer but your posts are difficult to understand and this undermines your credibility

Kevin
Reply to  Johanne
26 October 2021 8:32 am

How does one learn how to think? Perhaps it is like most things that are learned. Examples and practice doing it can really help. I was having a conversation with a friend’s daughter the other day. She was telling me how they are learning about ‘white privilege’ in school. Wanting her to think about the issue I asked, “if a white man went to Japan or India would he have white privilege?” Our society is mainly white making things easier for whites. My friend added that whites are no longer a ‘majority’. If whites are not a majority they are the largest minority. My main point was that if ‘white privilege’ exists here it is the result of a society traditionally dominated by whites. Judging by the number of immigrants wanting to come here it is a very desirable society to live in. Desirable despite having been created by white men and still patriarchal (according to some). If there are women that want to work long hours for little pay they can run for council. Obviously some do as we have women on council. Maybe our society will be better if it is less of a white patriarch. Maybe we should change the way things are done. Maybe spending over $1 million to restructure the town organisation will be good. Maybe the white males that want more transparency with HOLDCO, which seems to be part of the ‘old boys club’, have good intentions. Be careful with change as it can be a very expensive way to not really make a difference. Also be careful and edit your comments so others can understand them better. For example, ‘I know you will look google’ could have been written, ‘I know you will google it’. What is ‘terribly coherent’ Johanne?

Concerned
Reply to  Kevin
26 October 2021 11:40 am

When the town has no one looking after long range planning or strategic initiatives, change is definitely needed. These items are not duties that should be lumped in with regular duties. May be why we have no long term strategy for the town.

Scottie
6 October 2021 4:45 pm

I think the new organizational chart makes sense … but on the surface it seems to me that Cobourg’s administrative staff is overstaffed in some areas, yet under-staffed in others. Wouldn’t it make sense to charge our new CAO with the task of making these organizational changes, using existing staff by departmental transfers wherever possible with no new staffing additions. I do agree with the need for an HR dept. and this (new) dept. could work in conjunction with the CAO to transform the staff to a well-oiled municipal machine…

Concerned
Reply to  Scottie
7 October 2021 10:16 am

That is what this exercise was for so that the CAO could be given recommendations and then present her plan to council. As a reminder council ordered this Org Review as part of the Strategic Plan.

MiriamM
6 October 2021 3:12 pm

A very important discussion took place at Monday night’s Council meeting. The video of the meeting is now posted on the Town web site. The discussion was about an item that was not included in the published meeting agenda but came up during the CAO’s regular verbal pandemic report and occupied more than 20 minutes of Council discussion. (see video start 3.40.01 to 4.01.20, the CAO’s report starts at about 3.35.15 https://pub-cobourg.escribemeetings.com/Players/ISIStandAlonePlayer.aspx?Id=f7a0ef62-142f-4076-946a-b06eb866580e ). What the discussion revealed was gaps in what was described by the CAO as ‘policy legacy issues’. The topic was donor recognition and concerned the news of a big billboard, organized by staff and the Mayor, being installed in the CCC to recognize individual names of a select group of volunteers. As noted by Councillor Beatty (she asked about applicable policies, procedures, protocols and costs) there are many groups and volunteers who have worked to help others during this time of pandemic. Kudos to Councillors Beatty and Chorley for their efforts to recognize and address the policy gaps in real time rather to dismiss and defer fundamental issues and possible solutions until some time into the future. As well as the organizational review which includes recommendations such as raising the spending limit at the Director level and a new delegation policy by Council, there appears a need to identify existing gaps in policy which can have big unintended consequences.In fact, it seems this matter was a test of some of the organizational review ideas! And, a most effective way to lose valuable community volunteers is to be disrespectful and not value their contributions. It seems shortsighted (in hindsight, perhaps) to focus on one organization and not extend the same opportunity to others when the use of public assets are involved. It is not a ‘fix later’ scenario.… Read more »

Concerned
Reply to  MiriamM
7 October 2021 10:19 am

I wonder who on council is part of the Rotary Club?

Last edited 19 days ago by Concerned
Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
7 October 2021 11:31 am

Mayor, DM, Clr Burchat

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
7 October 2021 11:35 am

So we’re they the ones that said go ahead without anyone else knowing about this? Seems a bit unethical

Last edited 19 days ago by Concerned
Bill Thompson
6 October 2021 11:51 am

I know this has been said many times but appears to have little consideration nor influence.
It has now become the default position that everything requires costly consultancies to tell us the time with our own watch !
I would consider that there would be varied expertise in different fields in our residents living here if encouraged.

ben
6 October 2021 10:17 am

The question here is not the amount of money but are the suggested changes going to make the organisation function better? It appears that most of the posters on this board have a dim view of the way the Town operates and no realistic suggestions are ever made by the critics.

Be proactive folks not reactive, I know it is harder to look for ways to make things better but try. So look at the proposals in the light of “will it make things better”!

Then you will be able to put costs to the options.

A bit of history, in 1985 a new Council was elected after many years of penny-pinching by Councils afraid to raise taxes and operating minimum services. The new Council wanted a few things – a new industrial park, a new sewage treatment plant to service it and the East End replacement of septics and new storm water management for the the East End.

Guess what folks it cost, the tax increase that year was over 7%, it paid off in spades. This reorganisation is necessary for the future. Every so often the Town has to improve in big jumps, or else it declines. This report recognises this and tells us how to do it.

So go to it folks, vent about spending $10K on an adult fitness park and gloss over the big one here. I look forward to the thumbs down on this post!

Bryan
Reply to  ben
6 October 2021 11:56 am

Ben:

I agree with your main points:

  • Proactive rather than reactive
  • Focus on essential services
  • wary of making “big” decisions

This Town has focused on the frills for some years now and failed to pay attention to the basics. Case in point: the harbour and East Pier. Staff and Council have known about the poor state of repair for years…at least since 2002 when the Town acquired the harbour from the Feds AND received $400K in lieu of repairs. Little has been done except for some patchwork and now the repair cost is upwards of $12M+

You comment that folks “..vent about spending $10K….and gloss over the big one…”. is spot on. People deal with the things they understand. Spending $10K most understand. Spending $12M is beyond the experience and comfort level of many people, so they just nod their heads, instead of asking meaningful “hard” questions.

Last edited 20 days ago by Bryan
Merle Gingrich
Reply to  ben
6 October 2021 1:44 pm

Ben, 2022 would be a good time for you to run for council or the mayor.

ben
Reply to  Merle Gingrich
6 October 2021 1:56 pm

Do you really think I could elected LOL? Certainly not with my record of ‘thumbsdown’ !!

Last edited 20 days ago by Ben
Informed
Reply to  ben
6 October 2021 2:13 pm

Maybe thumbsdown is a good thing? People pleasers might not be able to make tough decisions when required.

Doug
6 October 2021 10:12 am

I grew up in a growing town. Life and jobs were grand for most people there. That town – far north in Ontario – is now half the population that it once had. Cobourg is growing and generally looks pretty good. We have some good services and facilities. I have certainly made good use of the CCC over the years. It is nice to see some dynamism in our community as it grows. A dying town full of run down housing with no future for young people is a sad situation to live in.
As far as taxes go; Do we pay too much in Cobourg? How do our taxes compare to other communities of our size? What are the normal/average municipal tax rates across Ontario?
I know my personal costs creep up with inflation but at the same time, so does my personal pension and my Old Age Pension. If these growth rates/increases are in step with each other that would seem a necessary and worth while reason for our taxes to increase. I like our town and hope it continues to progress.
If you want to lower your taxes there is an Unorganized Township near our cottage. They charge no taxes and employ no one. There are some decent homes up there – isolated.You will look after your own services. But there are no taxes either. You will never face a municipal tax increase again. Go for it! HA.

Have a good day!

Old Sailor
6 October 2021 8:57 am

In my view, Cobourg does not attract Council candidates with strong business backgrounds. We tend to elect candidates who push their own social agendas. If our Town has a $55 million++ budget then we need Council and Town staff leaders with strong business skills. Perhaps doubling Council remuneration would bring some of our talented bloggers out of retirement?

JimT
Reply to  Old Sailor
6 October 2021 6:03 pm

I’m curious where that $55 mil++ figure comes from.

I just had a quick look at the town’s published financials
and can’t make head nor tail of any of it.

Bryan
Reply to  JimT
6 October 2021 6:54 pm

JimT

From the 2020 audited financial statements Pg 8/33
https://www.cobourg.ca/en/town-hall/resources/Finance/2020-12-31-Town-of-Cobourg-Cons-wFS-Signed.pdf

2020 2019
Total Revenue $60.7M $55M
Total Expenses $48.8M $49.5M

Total Surplus $11.9M $5.5M

As at Dec 2019, Cobourg was a $55M business.
As at Dec 2020 the Town has grown to be a $60M business.

Now, don’t get all excited by the $11.9M surplus. This has already been spent, mostly on capital assets ($11.1M). See the Cash Flow Statement for more details (pg 10/33)

Last edited 20 days ago by Bryan
JimT
Reply to  Bryan
6 October 2021 8:32 pm

Aha! And thank you. I was looking in the wrong place.

Last edited 19 days ago by JimT
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Old Sailor
6 October 2021 9:20 pm

Old Sailor

The place for business experience and expertise is in the execution of policy and programing decisions made by Council.

A town run like a business would focus on monetary values not ethical or social and community values. An example is the substitution of the more efficient Engage Cobourg for Public Meetings. In the well managed execution of the latter one was able to engage in an informal debate with others along with an opportunity for rebutal.

Our present Council is the best I’ve experienced since I came here 22 years ago. Never perfect, often straying off subject, sometimes missundersanding, but in the end a good representaion of the community they serve.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Keith Oliver
10 October 2021 8:49 am

Keith – In order to be successful, business practices are necessary when running a town. It is, after all, the Corporation of the Town of Cobourg. There would be no need for all the titled, high-ranking business positions if this wasn’t the case. It all starts with money. If you want resources, you have to be able to pay for them. Due to the lack of the necessary business intelligence/experience, resources in Cobourg are insufficient for the people who are paying what they are paying for them. We have a right to be disappointed. There are some capitalist policies that need to be embraced and we need people who understand them to appropriately apply them in Cobourg. There are a few councillors who want to embrace socialist policies and I understand and applaud that focus for many areas of our town. The trouble is, socialism is expensive and we don’t have the system or policies in place right now to support it. Work needs to be done first. At the core of most successful business people is competition and a desire to problem-solve. In business, money is often the prize. On council, it’s often something different. These kinds of people don’t especially care, as long as they have a problem to solve, their brains are happy and working. The benefit traditional business experience brings to the table is the knowledge of how they would have went about leveraging the loopholes to make more money from the other side of things. Having those people on council brings the opportunity to counterbalance that approach. Without it, the town is vulnerable. Here’s an example: Ms. Beatty championed the Balder project – her reasoning being affordable housing. The town awarded a lot of money without guarantees or leverage to assure continuity of policy. Council… Read more »

ben
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
10 October 2021 9:49 am

Michael, I challenge you to read these articles about why Governments cannot/should not be run like a business:

https://bizshifts-trends.com/debunking-cliche-government-run-like-business-position-organize-manage-government-21st-century/

Also a quote from Forbes Magazine, https://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/10/05/government-vs-business/?sh=4dd304b02a54:

To reiterate, the key issue is this: not everything that is profitable is of social value and not everything of social value is profitable. The proper role of government is the latter. Those arguing for a business model for government must necessarily be ready to shut down all government functions that do not earn a profit, regardless of their contribution to our well being. And, if the public sector is being run properly, that should mean every single one. If it’s profitable, they shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. There is no need for the government to start a chain of hamburger stands, hardware stores, or coffee shops. Rather, they run child protective services, the National Park Service, and the Air Force. Profit is the realm of business, while unprofitable but socially useful tasks is the responsibility of government.

There are two sides to this and if you want to back up your opinion be prepared to use sources not just mantras from the Fraser Institute!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 12:34 pm

If it’s profitable, they shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. There is no need for the government to start a chain of hamburger stands, hardware stores, or coffee shops.

Ben, I agree. However, just because government, through a mixture of incompetence and misguided socialist objectives, can run a potentially profitable business at a loss should not be a reason for Cobourg’s participation. Consider some obvious examples: exercise facilities in competition with private gyms, Victoria Hall as a wedding venue, our marina, canteen at the beach and CCC, AGN …

Leweez
Reply to  Ken Strauss
10 October 2021 1:53 pm

Speaking of running a potentially profitable business at a loss, when was the last time Lakefront Utilities gave the Town of Cobourg a dividend payment?

ben
Reply to  Leweez
10 October 2021 3:29 pm

Hmm you had better ask Mr Strauss about that he led the move to lower the dividend paid to the Town, have we seen rates go down as a result – NO!

Leweez
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 3:41 pm

I believe I did!!

Bryan
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 6:05 pm

Ben & Leweez:

  1. By Lakefront Utilities, I assume you mean LUI, the electricity utility.
  2. LUI has never paid a dividend to the Town. Never has, never will.
  3. The decision to pay dividends is made by the corporations board of directors.
  4. Holdco pays a dividend to the Town and Cramahe (its shareholders) as determined by its directors, of which Mayor Henderson is one
  5. The 2020 Holdco Annual Report notes: “…The dividends exclude regulated income and have no effect on electric or water rates….”
  6. Ben wrote “……Mr Strauss ……led the move to lower the dividend paid to the Town, have we seen rates go down as a result – NO!.
  7. Ben, why do you have the expectation that dividend reduction would reduce rates?
  8. What exactly Ben, did Mr Strauss do to influence the dividend payment to the Town?

 
I seriously doubt that Mr Strauss has had any influence on the board of directors decision to pay a dividend or not.

Last edited 16 days ago by Bryan
Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
10 October 2021 6:20 pm

Pardon my mistake,
when was the last time HOLDCO made a dividend payment to the Town of Cobourg?

Bryan
Reply to  Leweez
10 October 2021 6:48 pm

Leweez:

2019 $150K
2020 $0

ben
Reply to  Bryan
10 October 2021 7:28 pm

Bryan why not ask Mr Strauss why he lobbied the Holdco for a change to their financial structure to the Town?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 8:12 pm

Yes, I lobbied for a change to make the interplay of electricity rates and dividends more transparent. The change that Council finally approved was the worst of the three options considered. It reduced transparency, had no effect on rates, reduced the value of LUI if it were to be sold and reduced dividends to Cobourg. A lose, lose, lose, lose.

Bryan
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 8:14 pm

Ben:

I am quite familiar with Ken’s work to change some of LUI’s business practices. I don’t recall any efforts to change Holdco’s financial structure. Please explain exactly what changes you are referring to with regard to Holdco.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 8:07 pm

Ben, I’m flattered by the influence that you assign to my efforts but I think that they are grossly overestimated. Yes, I’ve twice been an intervenor in LUI/OEB rate hearings and have attempted to make LUI more responsive to the needs of their customers. Getting a better deal for LUI’s customers (lower rates) reduces their profits and makes less money available for dividends to Holdco (and, indirectly, to Cobourg). You can’t both lower rates and increase dividends. There is only one source of profits and that is you, me and Cobourg’s other electricity users. I’ll happily provide full details of the latest rate hearings as soon as my confidentiality agreement permits me to talk freely.

Bryan
Reply to  Leweez
10 October 2021 7:16 pm

Leweez:

A small or no dividend is not necessarily indicative of a lack of profitability. The business may need the cash for capital repairs or additions, debt retirement or to fund growth. On the other hand, it may also indicate a cash flow problem.

As HOLDCO is a passive company, (revenue from investments) the issue is most likely in one or both of its subsidiaries

Why is there an expectation that the HOLDCO Group should pay dividends to Cobourg?
Prior to 2000, LUI and LUSI were part of the Cobourg Public Utilities Commission (a Cobourg business unit) which operated on a self sufficient basis and paid no dividends or “profits” to the Town.
The only difference between then and now is that the provincial government de-regulated the electrical utilities and forced a corporate structure on the former CPUC operations. The Town’s net assets did not change as a result of the re-organization.
However, the Town then received about $1M per year in interest and dividend up until 2015. The $1M was imbedded in the rates charged for utilities (primarily electricity delivery by LUI) paid by Cobourg residents.

Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
10 October 2021 8:58 pm

If Holdco will no longer provide an annual dividend,why keep it? Sell it off to the highest bidder, eg: Hydro One.
please do not tell me our service will not be as good or that we will lose local jobs.
That can all be covered in the sale of the utility.
Peterborough sold their for $70 million, I’m thinking $25 million for Cobourg?

Bryan
Reply to  Leweez
10 October 2021 9:26 pm

Lewees:

The Peterborough utility sold for $105M and is expected to net about $50M after debt repayment, expenses and fees.

I think the Town might net $10-15M, not $25M
as you suggested.

How much of a rate increase are you willing to pay in order to cover the purchaser’s acquisition costs plus corporate profit targets and dividends?

What is the basis for your belief that the Holdco Group should pay the Town a dividend? When the utility was part of the CPUC, the Town didn’t get a “dividend”, so why should it get one just because of a provincially forced corporate re-organization?

Last edited 15 days ago by Bryan
Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
10 October 2021 9:52 pm

i believe a rate structure for customers would also be part of the sale, like it was in Peterborough, and if HOLDCO is to provide no dividend to the Town why would you not sell for a net profit of 10-15 million.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 1:24 pm

There are two sides to this and if you want to back up your opinion be prepared to use sources not just mantras from the Fraser Institute!

Fair enough, Ben, but what constitutes suitable “sources”? Your first source quotes Charlie Kufs (self-described as “Hydrogeologist. Statistician. Writer. Cat lover. But mostly, Retired”) and Seth Masket (Professor of Political Science at a university ranked as #93 in the US).
Do you seriously consider these “sources” more trustworthy than the Fraser Institute?

ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
10 October 2021 3:31 pm

Do you seriously consider these “sources” more trustworthy than the Fraser Institute?”

I don’t consider the Fraser Institute, which is financed by large monies from the Koch Brothers, as a credible source of unbiased information.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 8:15 pm

Ben, all information is biased. Please attack the Fraser Institute’s information based on errors in their reports rather than who funded the reports.

ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
22 October 2021 5:31 pm

Ken – he who pays the piper plays the tune! The Koch Bros and their philosophies of oligarchy and unfettered corporate capitalism permeates all of the Fraser Institutes papers. I would disagree with all of the FI papers and still call out the funders for what I think they are!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
22 October 2021 8:40 pm

You continue to malign the Fraser Institute with absolutely no reference to errors in their analysis. That is an attitude that deserves to be completely ignored by intelligent readers.

Greg H
Reply to  Ken Strauss
22 October 2021 9:19 pm

The Fraser Institute is not an unbiased source of analysis, it is think tank that examines the world from a right wing wing perspective.
Similarly the Broadbent Institute examines issues from a left wing perspective. Neither is “correct” and one of them will always give an answer with a distinct blue tinge, whilst the other will give a pink tinge. People have to choose which analysis they prefer.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Greg H
22 October 2021 10:10 pm

Greg, preferences are irrelevant. Decisions should be based on errors in the “facts” used or problems with their analysis.

ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 October 2021 11:30 am

Of course Ken it all depends how facts are presented or slanted or even omitted to produce the bias!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
23 October 2021 12:22 pm

Ben, accounting for biases and flawed analysis is often termed “critical thinking”. It is something that intelligent people excel at and it should be part of everyone’s education. A democracy cannot function unless voters understand the differences between what is said and what is actually true.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  ben
10 October 2021 2:01 pm

Ben – None of my education or opinions come from the Fraser Institute. If I’m being honest, I’ve never read a single things published from there. Also, I’ve learned to read the room – this blog is not positioned as a group of academics looking to have open-minded debate, rather, concerned citizens who want to be invested in how their town is working. The best and worst thing about the internet is I could, with minimal effort, find a source that supports all the points I’m making. What then? Someone criticizes the source. The needle isn’t moved, we are set in our ways. Time and effort better used elsewhere. From one of the articles you provided: “…government can employ many of the same tools as the private sector, such as goal setting, process, analytics…but performance measures must be different”. That’s right along the lines of what I was saying. We need the minds and motivations of those who are and have been successful in business. Profit doesn’t have to be the goal – these people are goal-oriented and often flexible and creative in their thinking. I didn’t say the town must make a profit, and I certainly don’t think a town should be operating any of the businesses you mentioned. I do think a town should make residents feel heard, seen and cared for. Instead of using a link on the internet, I used a concrete, relevant, local example. Instead of a general approach to how government should be run, I used a situation that is taking place right now. If we had appropriate, skilled, educated, goal-minded people in the correct positions in the town, perhaps this consultation would not even be necessary. The trouble is, without performance reviews and little recourse to correct some of the possible bad hiring… Read more »

Concerned
Reply to  Old Sailor
7 October 2021 10:48 am

I’m curious how you came up with that I believe a some of them are small business owners or are involved with a family business. Ethics and morals are more important than a business background when it comes to politicians.

Concerned
Reply to  Old Sailor
7 October 2021 10:51 am

You want to double the salary of a councillor? Wouldn’t that money be better spent else where staff does all the work they just say yes or no. Councillors are not supposed to be involved in Operations.

Sandpiper
6 October 2021 8:54 am

Why not all vote it down to get re elected and push for this to be passed as soon as the new council is in . Thats their usual move around here

John L. Hill
6 October 2021 8:41 am

It will be most interesting to see which councilor will vote to increase staff and raise taxes in 2022. That is election year. A supportive vote will tell us which councilor NOT to vote for.

Johanne
Reply to  John L. Hill
8 October 2021 12:13 am

A supportive vote Or a recorded vote ? KPMG is one of the world’s leading professional services firms, providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations. They charge an innovative price for our lack of imagination. We have great resources in this town and great people. KPMG is widely recognized for being a great place to work and build a career. Cobourg is a small town that needs transparency and share information well. We had similar firm every decade in a big city.

cornbread
6 October 2021 8:31 am

Probably a time when staff and town employees should be thankful for their jobs and pension plan. Many others lost their jobs due to the virus. Seems while most households tighten their belts, the Town with their TO consultants figure out ways to increase our already high tax rates in Cobourg.

Dubious
5 October 2021 7:51 pm

I just read John’s summary. Is it really April 2 today?

Last edited 21 days ago by Dubious
Doug
Reply to  Dubious
6 October 2021 9:52 am

Is this comment ment as a little riddle that no one will understand? Or, would it be possible for you to explain this enigmatic comment ?

Dubious
Reply to  Doug
6 October 2021 6:51 pm

I thought that it was obvious! If John’s article was published on April 2 then the Council presentation was on April 1. April First is a day for jokes and general stupidity. A perfect day to suggest that Cobourg should spend $1,430,000 more each year because staff moral is poor and other ridiculous reasons.

Kathleen
5 October 2021 6:23 pm

Staff morale? Let’s talk Taxpayer morale. What Cobourg gets in return for their Tax dollars is dismal. Current example… How much were those 7 Feathers again? Now they are ruined. Someone here had a great suggestion to paint the feathers on a bridge where the mural would last. Like our mothers used to say, “Haste Makes Waste”. Maybe Council would benefit by reading the great ideas and suggestions that are put forth on John’s blog before wasting our money.

Last edited 21 days ago by Kathleen
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Kathleen
5 October 2021 8:02 pm

Painting the Seven Feathers Crosswalk cost about $1200. Today they had four Public Works personnel arrive in two trucks as well as the street sweeping machine, and a special constable to ensure security. Don’t know how much that will cost the taxpayer. But then it will be more costly to redo it. and this cost will be embedded in the budget perpetually. We paid quite a hefty amount for this particular incompetence. And so they are doubling down on the stupid. I think they have a build back better policy.

Last edited 21 days ago by Wally Keeler
Concerned
Reply to  Kathleen
7 October 2021 9:51 am

The great ideas that didn’t exist from the “experts” until after the fact, where were you months prior to the event with these suggestions did you make a delegation to the town, probably not. The problem appears to be as stated by the org review is directors are bogged down in the weeds doing the work of managers because of lack of staffing in some areas and don’t have the time do to the strategic planning for the town. That is the executive staff’s job. Some speak of expertise within staff and maybe that is part of the problem. With constant promotion from within maybe the expertise isn’t there because we have people in positions that aren’t qualified they are simply there because they are from the town and were promoted up. Nepotism always is a problem in small towns. Now there seems to be some open competition and we are getting more qualified personnel, the new Deputy Chief, HR Manager and CAO as examples. Maybe that is what is needed so the town is run properly. There seems to be a lot of “legacy” issues that are now coming to light and maybe we have been mismanaged for years and with growth, services don’t come for free. As one writer stated there was a 7% increase that did wonders for the town. I’m not sure what the ask is going to actually be from the CAO and staff but why don’t we see which recommendations with supporting reasoning they want to pursue. I’m sure staff noticed the communications department missing and hopefully that will be on the final report since this was only the draft.

Last edited 19 days ago by Concerned
Ahewson
5 October 2021 4:49 pm

Very interesting. A good deal of commenters here believe the town is OVER staffed.

Informed
Reply to  Ahewson
6 October 2021 2:20 pm

I dont necessarily think so. I bet the planning dept. Is busting at the seams now with a recent retirement. If more staff in that department expedited development so that projects can get off the ground quicker then hopefully more development occurs. More development means more develpment charges..more taxes collected etc etc.

Concerned
Reply to  Informed
7 October 2021 10:02 am

How can you expedite it when council wants everything to come to them?

Informed
Reply to  Concerned
7 October 2021 10:07 am

Good point

Concerned
Reply to  Informed
7 October 2021 10:27 am

If you go back and watch, Councillor Darling and the consultant made the point a couple of times, that council is in the weeds too much. This isn’t the first time Councillor Darling has made this observation either. You can have oversight without getting in the way.

Last edited 19 days ago by Concerned
ben
Reply to  Concerned
7 October 2021 12:47 pm

There’s nothing wrong with Council being in the weeds. They have to be or else they would know less than they know now.

However a couple of things have to happen for the Councillors to be more informed and on top of things. Firstly they have to devote more time to being a Councillor, I know Cllr Darling wouldn’t like to hear this his idea of being a Cllr is a part time job. Wrong; being a Cllr is a fulltime job and should be paid as such. Secondly, and the report says this – a system of standing committees has to be set up. Cobourg has persistently stuck with a ‘coordinator’ system for a couple of reasons. Probably on ego, it is much nicer to be in charge of something than sit on a committee. But such a system leads to ‘silos’ and lazy Cllrs. after all it is much easier to tell a constituent “go and see that person, your complaint is not in my portfolio” than actually discover the problem and fix it themselves.

Personally I am glad that the report recommends standing committees I have advocated for such for many many years. But lack of understanding how committees would work and ego-filled lazy Cllrs have stubbornly stuck with a bad system of governance for years.

Concerned
Reply to  ben
7 October 2021 1:26 pm

Ben: I believe another issue is that we don’t have a ward system and simply get the top vote getting councillors. So it becomes a town wide popularity contest instead of having someone representing your specific area of town who knows the issues intimately in your neighbourhood. By being in the weeds I am referring to interfering in day to day operations and that is not part of their responsbility.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
7 October 2021 1:44 pm

Also, Councillors are often in the weeds because they insist on being involved in things that are not Cobourg’s responsibility — affordable housing, living wage certification, hospital funding and online academic tutoring — for some recent examples.

Johanne
Reply to  ben
7 October 2021 4:07 pm

I disagreed with this flawed portfolio system since 1993. Ben suffered longer than me. While you are on council you vote for another portfolio you don’t know much about and, you have to research diligently yourself, if people are willing to cooperate. (I met my Toronto counterpart because I couldn’t see mechanical expenses or discuss with my department). It is a poor system that is never questioned and it should be ! But inside that mysterious utopia is hiding a quiet and precious logic of making a better informed decision for each of those councillors. ~ A tax increase of one million dollars is very expensive to a mismanaged organization. ~ Let me explain. Councillors are decision makers but they are not acting like managers. We never saw a cv, discuss fully policies, solving problems etc.. Old Sailor said councillors should have business knowledge, work full time and better remunerated. Yes I agree with this generality and I would add you have to love your public work and knowledge is power.. Meanwhile sharing INSIDE THE ORGANIZATION, already in place, would be a lot cheaper i.e. more material to read for councillors YES but more control for every and each of us taxpayers !!! Let the councillors fill the role of managers as well and let them run it like a real business. As a mayor you should have contract law experience and be proud of a portfolio reform, the saved present and future tax dollars and you should sit here and then on all, yes all committees, to make sure everyone has a fair chance to be well informed on all the TOWN BUSINESS only. No private favors but for the good of the town. Good remark Ben and Old Sailor.

Last edited 19 days ago by Johanne
Concerned
Reply to  Ahewson
7 October 2021 10:08 am

Yet they don’t work in the town so how would we know?