Staff Submissions for 2022 Operating Budget

Council has started their review of requests by staff for the 2022 budget. The process started with submissions on Tuesday November 9 and continued on Wednesday November 10. CAO Tracey Vaughan kicked it off with a description of changes in the process: instead of each department formatting their own, all followed the same format. The budget was first described with a high level overview then each new hire and all major expenditure were justified with standard format sheets. Decisions will be made on November 25 and 26 but there are some things to know from these initial submissions. Most of the changes recommended by the Organization review are included in the budget request (more below) and the process is more oriented to outcomes and not just numbers.

Overview

There is more focus on cost savings and cost avoidance. There is more information on new hires and the cost of employees with each addition justified in detail.  Major budget items are highlighted and explained. There is less emphasis in the operating budget on which account the money comes from (grant, reserves, levy, Holdco, Northam etc). It’s closer to big business budgeting but it is clearly “traditional” budgeting (starting point is the previous year)and not “zero based”.

Although submissions were both operating and Capital Projects, this report covers operating budgets only – highlights of Capital budget requests will be covered in a future report.

Operating Changes Proposed – highlights from both days

  • The Clerk (Brent Larmer) will become a Director of the new department “Legislative Services”.
  • Community Services will no longer have a Deputy Director. Since there will be a Community Services Department and hence a Director, presumably that means Teresa Behan will fill that position?  There will also be fewer managers in that Department (4 instead of 5).
  • Consolidate the Community Services functions of Marketing, Events and Tourism with the Concert Hall.
  • The Organization review proposed 13 new positions and the submitted budget includes 11 of them.  The cost impact of these would be $575K – this alone would require an increase in the tax levy over 2021 of 2.3% .
  • The Organization review recommended hiring both a Manager of the Office of the CAO and a Manager of Transformation Initiatives but CAO Tracey Vaughan is now proposing combining these roles into one person – although starting earlier on April 1.
  • A new manager of Economic Development would be hired.
  • Lifeguards will return at Centennial Pool and the Beach.
  • Two additional Firefighters are planned.

Comment on Tax Impact

The tax increase for 2022 will likely be relatively large since (according to Ian Davey)  the levy actually went down by 0.2% in 2021 and inflation is currently running at 4.4% so there will be some catch up required (my wording).  The impact will be mitigated because MPAC indicates there is an increase of about 2% in new assessments (that’s up from a predicted 1.5%). That is, a 2% budget increase will not cause an increase in the tax levy. Separately, MPAC has said that assessment increases will be put on hold for 2022 and 2023. This means that valuations will not reflect recent large increases in property values (more on property values in Cobourg here).

But Deputy Mayor Séguin in particular will be pushing Council to minimize the increase in the tax levy – we’ll have to wait and see what Council decides when the budget comes up for final approval on December 13.

Stay tuned for report on Major Capital Projects.

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Sandpiper
12 November 2021 9:31 am

Well the Mayors already starting his re Election campaign
if you read his Cobourg’s been Discovered articles
its SOOO Fluffed up where is Fact Checker when you need them

Rob
11 November 2021 2:36 pm

I hope this group of Councilors are enjoying their final 11 months in office … difficult to see any of them being re-elected, but I suppose acclamation is possible.

Although I think Adam is a great community liaison 🙂

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  Rob
11 November 2021 5:51 pm

Rob, you say that you don’t see them being re-elected. Do you have an inside track of people willing to run for council? Last election, mayor Henderson was acclaimed and I do not recall an abundance of choice for the councillor positions.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Rob
13 November 2021 9:06 am

Rob

“Difficult to see any of them being reelected!”.

Who would want to be reelected after the abuse they are subjected to on this and other blogs, on abusive phone calls I’ve been told they often receive and more. I’ve run for Council here and in London and I can assure you that the Public is often unruly and disrespectful.

I have appeared before Council many times over the 22 years, on issues related to growth and development. I’ve relied on knowledge and experience acquired in my professional life. I’ve often felt frustrated at the final decisions made by Council but never have I let that frustration get personal.

The present Council with two exceptions is the best one Cobourg has had in two decades. Yes they can often go off track, seem confused from time to time. The issues they are presented with are often complex, made more so when they hear from citizens who are reluctant to change or suspect some ulterior motive.

In the end they try their best, work hard, are underpaid, and are all deserving of our respect.

Dubious
Reply to  Keith Oliver
13 November 2021 9:25 am

“The present Council with five exceptions is the best one Cobourg has had in two decades.”

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Dubious
13 November 2021 4:45 pm

Looking to see your name on the ballot next time since you know everything. Dubious indeed.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
13 November 2021 9:23 pm

Dubious or who ever you are.

Without naming names on what evidence or personal experience do you make your claim about five Councilors? Otherwise your remark is just one more meaningless wise crack.

Last edited 21 days ago by Keith Oliver
Dubious
Reply to  Keith Oliver
14 November 2021 8:47 am

Watch meeting videos and count how many approve things not part of Cobourg’s responsibility. Count how many fund things without considering citizen benefits. Count how many look asleep during meetings. Count how many serve on boards without asking for direction from council. Count how many approve staff reports without questions. Count how many are disrespectful of citizen presentations. Count how many think huge tax increases are fine.

ben
Reply to  Dubious
14 November 2021 9:54 am

And you think new people wouldn’t do this?

Dubious
Reply to  ben
14 November 2021 12:24 pm

Keith claimed that only two councillors were not the best and I suggested that five were not good. New ones might be as bad.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Dubious
14 November 2021 9:41 pm

Dubious

On the Friday before each Council Meeting of the Whole, Councilors receive not only the Agenda for the following Monday’s meeting but hundreds of pages of material relevant to the issues they will question, debate, ask questions about, etc.This Council meeting allows delegations, more debate and an opportunity to create and forward resolutions to the following week’s Regular Meeting for a final vote. In the interim there is time for sober second thought.

Your critique is missinformed and ill-founded. If issues such as affordable and available housing is designated as being under the preview of County Government but our Council “butts in”, more power to to them. At the risk of being told to “butt out” our Council is acting in support of a better life for all Cobourg citizens. The expansion of the Trinity Coop and the housing complex being built at University and William is happening because of the work of Cobourg Council and not the County.

And by the way, what’s your real name again?

Concerned
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 November 2021 1:20 pm

Actually they have access 10 days before. Unless something is added last minute. Although I support council I do feel we should not be involved in affordable housing other than providing policies to support it. We should not be spending over 100k to do this. The county and province and federal government should be doing this.

Frenchy
Reply to  Concerned
15 November 2021 9:06 pm

Right.
Stay in your own lane.

Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
16 November 2021 12:53 pm

Keith – Oh and good presentation last night. Hopefully down the road the second phase gets looked at.

Last edited 18 days ago by Concerned
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 November 2021 5:12 pm

…our Council is acting in support of a better life for all Cobourg citizens.

Keith, how does spending many $100Ks provide a better life for all Cobourg residents? Consider that there are almost 10,000 families in Cobourg and all will have to pay yet only a dozen will get “affordable” units in the Williams Street project. The families benefiting from the “affordable” units may not even be current Cobourg residents.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
15 November 2021 9:26 pm

Ken

Again lots of criticism but no alternatives.

The Balder project at University and William adds another 70 units into the market place. There are 3 reserved for Cornerstone Family Violence Centre. The 10 affordable units will go back on the market in 10 years. The carrot in all this was a deferal of several up front fees or charges.

And what’s this about the dreaded out-of-towners. Is geography now a factor in deciding who gets a hand up?

It is absolutely immoral that so many families can not find suitable, stable and affordable housing. The list grows longer every year.

Society pays many times more for the consequences of inadequate housing than what it would cost to provide adequate housing in the first place.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 November 2021 9:50 pm

Is geography now a factor in deciding who gets a hand up?

Keith, that is a silly question. Surely you don’t think that Cobourg’s taxpayers should fund “affordable” housing for anyone who decides to move here.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
16 November 2021 6:00 pm

Ken

Seems that it’s escaped your notice that we are all Canadians, even those who live in rural Northumberland and have had to come to its historic rural centre, Cobourg, to find needed help. Take pride in this, pride in what what our tax dollars, yours and mine, have made possible.

Yet somehow Cobourg has survived and over the years our commonly shared standard of living has improved

We went through this argument when the proposal to convert the Woodland Inn into a “treatment centre” was first proposed. A treatment centre modeled after the one in Port Hope is a welcome addition to the urban sophistican that will propel Cobourg into a well balanced, comprehensive and successful future.

Relax Ken, I can assure you that Cobourg has encountered much greater dangers in the past and some how Cobourg has survived!

Last edited 18 days ago by Keith Oliver
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 November 2021 8:48 pm

Housing is an upper tier responsibility because it affects the whole county/province/country. It is absurd to suggest that Cobourg taxpayers must directly pay to help those outside our little town; we have more than enough local uses for our already high taxes.

Rob
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 November 2021 9:24 am

Keith – you’re making a philosophical argument but the concerns are of a practical nature. Of course access to affordable housing is critical however the Town of Cobourg is not charged with the responsible of social/affordable housing. While I appreciate the “greater good” side of the equation there are other levels of government that have this within their portfolio. The role of Council could be to lobby, aggressively, for those requiring affordable housing within their Municipality. No more than I would suggest that Municipal tax dollars fund the Canadian Forces or subsidize healthcare – why is this viewed differently?

Concerned
Reply to  Rob
16 November 2021 12:40 pm

Use policies to assist affordable housing not town money.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Rob
18 November 2021 7:51 pm

Rob

I know that this is late in this blog but my argument is not a philosophical one in which you can justify just about anything, it is a moral one in which the well being of the group is at stake. Morality, ethics, carry little weight these days, much to the detriment of “the common good”.

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
16 November 2021 12:50 pm

Generally I agree with you on things Keith but I can’t on this one. 100k isn’t going to solve the affordable housing problem in the town. They should be pushing for support from the County, Provincial and Federal governments. This is their responsibility not a lower tier municipality who has very little funds to deal with this matter. We can bring in policies to support but funding should not be from us, the 100k will have little to no impact.

Scottie
11 November 2021 11:39 am

I’m concerned about the plan to hire two lifeguards. Presuming that the lifeguards are for beach patrol, does Council not realize that having lifeguards on duty at the beach puts Cobourg in a liability position? That is, if the “Two lifeguards” fail to rescue a person in distress on the beach (which could have a very large number of beachgoers at any given time!!!) — then “Cobourg” could be liable for damages. For the past two summers, no lifeguards were hired … at a wage cost savings alone of about $100,000 per year!!! NONE of the provincial beaches have lifeguards, for example Pres Qu’ile. The beaches are simply posted with “use at your own risk” signage. THAT us what Cobourg should be doing.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Scottie
11 November 2021 2:02 pm

I am sympathetic with Scottie’s comment of November 11.

Town Staff seem overly concerned about liability. General consensus is that if “due care” has been taken such as setting out orange buoys at the end of the shallow waters; making it clear to beach users that no life guards are on duty; that they use the beach and water at their own risk, then the Town has done it’s duty.

In the conduct of our daily lives, risk is every where. From cossing the street to using the skate board facility at Donagan Park, to driving our cars. If you want to be perfectly safe … stay in bed … just be careful not to fall out!

Concerned
Reply to  Scottie
12 November 2021 12:17 pm

Here we go again…well Toronto beaches all have life guards, Barrie’s main beach has lifeguards.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
12 November 2021 1:29 pm

Concerned:
And lemmings follow other lemmings over the cliff to their death.

Are you advocating Cobourg should have lifeguards just because some other towns do. Why not follow the example of “beaches” that don’t have lifeguards….Sandbanks (and most/all provincial parks), for example.

Do you have a “made in Cobourg” business case for lifeguards at Victoria beach? What are the benefits to Cobourg residents?

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
12 November 2021 2:46 pm

Again Bryan I was countering the lazy argument with of Scottie saying, well Presquile has them. I get it you don’t like my points but to be rude, time to grow up. Saving a few bucks over
Public safety especially young children is not the way to go.

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
12 November 2021 2:54 pm

So let’s look at the economic impact of eliminating summer employment for youth, safety for visitors and residents, then taking police and fire away from normal duties because the have to respond to calls to the beach which I understand happened quite often this summer when lifeguards could of avoided this.

Ken Strauss
11 November 2021 9:01 am

Staff have proposed spending $575K more every year to implement some of our pricey consultant’s recommended “efficiency” improvements. I understood that improved efficiency means doing more with less! That increase means taking over $50 more every year from every Cobourg family in higher property taxes. Which will benefit the average family more: $50 to pay rent and rising energy bills or additional well paid town staff?

Sandpiper
11 November 2021 8:24 am

another point They keep talking about running the Town like a Business
Then don’t hire people Put them on a contract so if they don’t perform
over the term say 2 or 3 yrs then they are gone . Thats what other Municipalities do . INSTEAD
They get a Union Job with benefits and a retirement plan.
Lets just replace some of the Dead Wood and light duty for lifers
CPP disability can look after them

cornbread
Reply to  Sandpiper
11 November 2021 3:26 pm

Don’t hire them in the first place…I’m beginning to think we hired the wrong CAO. Why do we need 2 new firemen??? Cost plus benefits & equipment probably in the $300,000 range. How many real fires did we have these past 12 months?

Phunkeemum
11 November 2021 8:23 am

The tax base is going to rise significantly with so many new homes being built. Use that.

Concerned
Reply to  Phunkeemum
16 November 2021 1:03 pm

Yes have you seen the starting price for the larger homes in the new Tribute community? Million+

Leweez
10 November 2021 5:02 pm

For the two new firefighters, could we buy a set of bunk beds instead of two King beds? You know, just so we don’t have to build an addition to the already existing sleeping quarters 😴

Dunkirk
Reply to  Leweez
10 November 2021 10:23 pm

Lets get a grip Councilors….
Peterborough tax increase: 2.75%; Belleville 1.4%; Clarington 2.2; Trent Hills 1%…….Are they all wrong?
Are there 5% more jobs being created here this year?
Is everyone working in Cobourg getting a 5% raise this year?
Did the cost of living go down 5% in the last 12 months or did we just hear today it went up 6%?

We know we have an expensive Police Force; we know our Parks are expensive to maintain; we know we lose money on the CCC; we know the Library costs us a million; we know that we lost 300 living wage/benefit jobs this year between Weston+Brookside…..

What are you seeing that the rest of us are not?

Gerinator
Reply to  Dunkirk
11 November 2021 4:33 pm

Agree. Further I’d like to know the constituents that Mr Davey uses to come up with the 4.4% inflation. I for one believe that there are constituents within this inflationary number that are one-off’s and will not be sustained in the next years. If this is true then any budget that assumes 4.4% inflation will contribute to the following years ‘floor’ i.e. the starting point for the next year; an already established Town accounting practice.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Leweez
11 November 2021 9:57 am

What is it with your constant need to gripe about the beds for the FF?

Bryan
Reply to  Gerald Childs
11 November 2021 11:31 am

Gerald Childs:

Why do the firefighters need sleeping quarters. They typically work 10 or 12 hour shifts, similar to workers in some industries. The private sector workers work during their shifts, they don’t sleep (at least, not supposed to). Why should firefighters be treated differently?

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 12:04 pm

According to the Ontario Fire Chiefs Assoc. Eight-five percent of FF have switched in Ontario to the 24 hr shift.
I don’t know many people who can pull off a 24 hr shift and not need sleep or be fit if staying awake for a call on their twenty-third hour of duty.
So are the hours not the same for Cobourg? (I have no connection to the Fire Service here or elsewhere)
https://www.oafc.on.ca/article/firefighters-switch-24-hour-shifts

Last edited 23 days ago by Gerald Childs
cornbread
Reply to  Gerald Childs
11 November 2021 3:31 pm

Looks to me that firemen work & sleep 2 days a week…get paid for 48 hours work…then they can have a second job for the other 3 – 8 hour work days during the week. How many of us get paid to sleep????

Rob
Reply to  cornbread
11 November 2021 4:00 pm

Cornbread is that really what you believe or are you attempting to be contrary? You’re very much off the mark and I’d encourage you to investigate further…I hope if I am ever in need a well rested, healthy firefighter arrives in a timely manner.

Informed
Reply to  cornbread
12 November 2021 12:10 pm

Perhaps you can forward your address for no response to your residence and you can deduct 50 bucks a year off your taxes. Your insurance would skyrocket but you would make a point

cornbread
Reply to  Informed
12 November 2021 5:21 pm

You obviously don’t know the cost of current f fighters in my tax bill, so wise up and do the correct math

Informed
Reply to  cornbread
13 November 2021 11:56 am

Could you let me know?

Leweez
Reply to  Gerald Childs
11 November 2021 4:03 pm

As Bryan stated, Cobourg firefighters work 10 and 12 hour shifts.
They do NOT work 24 hour shifts.
Understand why I question sleeping quarters now?

Bryan
Reply to  Gerald Childs
11 November 2021 5:04 pm

Gerald Childs:

The article you are referencing is “…Firefighters’ 24-hour shifts get close look…” published in 2012.

You wrote “…According to the Ontario Fire Chiefs Assoc. Eight-five percent of FF have switched in Ontario to the 24 hr shift….” I didn’t see anything in this article supporting this statement.

The article notes “…. In Ontario, Canada, fire departments have been moving toward the 24-hour shift at the urging of collective bargaining units. But in two extensive reports, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs urges caution before making the change.”

Concerned
Reply to  Gerald Childs
11 November 2021 5:31 pm

And the 24 shifts are coming to Cobourg don’t kid yourself. All the union has to do is challenge it and we will lose like many municipalities already have.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
11 November 2021 5:52 pm

Concerned:

The article is dated Jan 2019 and says in part “…but will be monitored throughout the three-year trial period….”

The trial period ends Jan 2022. It will be interesting to see what results.

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 6:18 pm

Yes but 90% of the province is still at 24 hour shifts or did you miss that part.

Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 4:36 pm

Additional information: The collective agreement (2019-2020) between Cobourg and the firefighters provides for the following hours of work; “….shall be forty-two (42) hours averaged over a four (4) week period, based on the two (2) platoon system consisting of a ten (10) hour day and fourteen (14) hour night…”

I assume that the “night” shift has assigned work tasks: reports, equipment maintenance, training and inspections, in addition to service calls. Is “sleep” one of the assigned work tasks?

Last edited 23 days ago by Bryan
Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 4:58 pm

It appears to be, hence the beds.
Still amazes me that this continues and council knows about it

Bryan
Reply to  Leweez
11 November 2021 5:54 pm

Leweez:

It’s an operational issue, not policy.
The CAO is the one in charge

Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 6:04 pm

Didn’t council approve a bedroom for the new female firefighter last year?

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
12 November 2021 1:32 pm

No…i believe it was ok with her husband if she shared the bunk with a colleague to save a few dollars. Give your head a shake.

Leweez
Reply to  Informed
12 November 2021 4:39 pm

So you are ok with sleeping on the job?
how about the Roads department, you good with getting them some bunks as well?

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
13 November 2021 11:38 am

I think most firedepts. In the province have bunks. Do you think someone should be working for 12 or 13 hours then drive a big rig through Town to a call at 3am.

Leweez
Reply to  Informed
13 November 2021 12:18 pm

you seem to be fine with the Roads department driving a snow plough through town at 3am without having bunks🤷‍♂️

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
13 November 2021 12:45 pm

I believe many of the public works staff are called out from home in the middle of the night and paid to be on call and overtime to come in for storms. According to people at fire dept i spoke to awhile ago many work a night shift then are on call all the next day and then go back for nights again. This wouldnt even be legal unless they had down time at work to rest.

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 6:20 pm

Actual when it comes to police and fire any town has very little to say. They can say no and then in the case of fire it goes to an arbitrator and generally they lose and in the case of police they simply say that’s nice this is our budget.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
11 November 2021 6:34 pm

Concerned:
The CPSB has five members. Two are provincial political appointees. The mayor and a councilor are board members. The final member, the current chair, was appointed by the Town and serves at the pleasure of Council.
So why doesn’t Council have control?

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
11 November 2021 8:22 pm

Because council is still less than 50% of the board . Council can turn around and say we don’t like the Budget presented and the majority of the board specifically the chair will say that’s nice have a good day that is our budget. The remaining five will have no input other than to accept it.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
11 November 2021 9:39 pm

Concerned:

I think you missed the point.
The third member was appointed by Council and serves at the pleasure of Council. He should be the “Councils” man, giving Council the majority….3 of 5.

Last edited 23 days ago by Bryan
Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
12 November 2021 11:12 am

Here is a good read for you. The OCPC rarely sides against a police force and their budget request. So you may think council has some say but unless the force is way out of line with their request they will generally always win an arbitration case against council!

Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
12 November 2021 11:39 am

So although many think council is at fault when it comes to the budgets for fire and police. No, they just know that chances are they will spend thousands, if not 10s of thousand, on legal fees just to lose at arbitration provincially.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
12 November 2021 5:27 pm

Concerned:
I agree that the “town” rarely wins at arbitration. The issue here is control of the Cobourg Police Services Board. In my view, Council should have control (3 of 5), but it doesn’t seem to be working. The question is why?

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
12 November 2021 5:22 pm

Concerned:

You wrote “….the remaining five…”. How many members do you believe the CPSB has?
There are 5 members: 2 political appointees, 2 from Council and 1 appointed by Council.
I believe 3 of 5 is majority, assuming Council “controls” its appointed member.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
12 November 2021 5:15 pm

Concerned:
Agree in part. The firefighters’ budget is controlled by the Town. There is no arbitration for them unless it’s covered in the union contract.
The cops (police services board) can refuse to amend the police budget and go to arbitration. The issue is why would the CPSB do that when two of the members are members of Town Council and a third is appointed by Council. The other two are political appointees. I hope the expectation is that they apply common sense to the issues and make evidence based decisions.

Informed
Reply to  Bryan
12 November 2021 1:28 pm

I believe its addressed under the OH&SA

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
12 November 2021 12:07 pm

Would you prefer to have alot more fires during night with people losing their homes so the ffs keep busier in the middle of the night.

Leweez
Reply to  Informed
12 November 2021 4:42 pm

Nope, just don’t know why we would allow one department to sleep on duty and not all the other departments