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.
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.