Update on Organization Review

Tonight, October 28, Council had a special Committee of the Whole meeting to review the Organization changes proposed by the CAO, Tracey Vaughan.  It was preceded by a two hour closed session to discuss a subject that was not disclosed although there was talk of “Cost Savings”.  The general impression I got from the meeting was that Councillors were generally accepting the recommendations with no major objections.  In fact, Councillor Emily Chorley asked that since the By-Law Enforcement manager, the Grant Writer and the additional Building Official were all cost neutral, why not hire them sooner than July 1?  Councillor Brian Darling made a motion to that effect which passed.  Council then discussed each new position and this provided some additional clarity.

Clarifications
Some positions only

  • Hiring a Long Range Planner would mean there would be less reliance on consultants in the Planning Department.
  • The Manager of Transformation Initiatives would centralize attention to customer service.  This person would set expectations and report on them.
  • The Manager of Economic Development is required by the Strategic Plan and is especially important as the Town emerges from the pandemic.
  • The Procurement manager would centralize procurement and would mitigate risk. It would also change the philosophy of how the Town operates.

Although the CAO’s report suggests reviewing the Councillors’ Coordinator roles, Tracey also suggests deferring that to the next term of Council  The reason is because doing this now would create a lot of work and given the work involved with the organization change, it was felt it would be best to be deferred.

Overall, the open session meeting accomplished little- it was made clear that the decision on proceeding would be made in budget deliberations.  The schedule for these is here. Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin was clearly uncomfortable with the big tax increase required and although there was talk of cost savings, no detail was provided.  

Addendum – 2 November 2021

At the regular Council meeting on November 1 when the above decision was ratified, some questions were asked and some items clarified:

  1. The draft budgets now available do include funds as required for the above changes – including office supplies and training
  2. Directors responsible for new staff will be providing the deliverables for the new managers
  3. Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin asked some questions:
    • Could the phase-in be 3-5 years instead of the 1-2 years proposed (CAO response – can be discussed in budget deliberations)
    • Why not make new position contact positions pending evaluation of their success?
    • Why have new positions as managers when most do not have direct reports? (CAO Response – they manage process and work)
    • The EDI Manager position job description was not provided.
  4. The location and office space for new positions have not been decided.

Stay tuned for reports from the Budget discussions.

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Previous Reports on Cobourg News Blog

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MiriamM
3 November 2021 1:49 pm

The DM has raised good points. Hopefully there will be a wholesome discussion in due course.

I am still perplexed about the description of ‘manager’ as used in the Town’s proposed job descriptions. To compare, for example, here is a link to a summary description for a position of Manager, Long Range and Community Planning posted by the City of North Vancouver.
https://www.pibc.bc.ca/jobs/manager-long-range-and-community-planning

Note, from the link: “The Planning and Development Department requires a regular full-time Manager, Long Range and Community Planning. Reporting to the Director, you will manage the professional and technical planning work of the long-range planning, policy analysis and community planning team. You will appear before Council on a regular basis and will often be a public spokesperson for long-range and community planning in the City. In addition, you will advise other departments and corporations on long-range and community planning matters and processes and work closely with other departments to address issues in an integrated manner.” 

Rob
Reply to  MiriamM
3 November 2021 4:13 pm

Title is likely driven from the use of a global job evaluation/compensation system (KPMG, Mercer, etc..). The title (and the title matters) as well as the level of accountability sets the baseline for the salary range for each role.

MiriamM
Reply to  Rob
3 November 2021 6:20 pm

Good point.

ben
Reply to  MiriamM
4 November 2021 1:48 pm

Of course Miriam if you hire a Director of Planning who has imagination and forethought, instead of one who is a regulatory gatekeeper you get this position!

Last edited 1 month ago by Ben
Sandpiper
30 October 2021 3:15 pm

I think we need to Take a look at the Whole Picture
This Town has never been forth coming with the whole picture and all the Facts at the Same time They Like to sprinkle it upon us over the year and dilute
the facts at the same time as a Feel Good Town . Well the Feeling has gone for a lot of us and The propaganda dose not change reality .
The Fact of the matter is there have only been Tax and Cost hikes every year since this Council and Mayor took over . The County right up there with them .

Now we are faced not only with a Sizable Property Tax hike in the name of
Efficiency and Organization but we are now Looking at the Towns Utility Commission applying for a near 7 + % utility rate / hydro increase + + after installing Cost saving Efficient Hydro and now Water meters . under Councilor Darlings Guidance and recommendations of Savings .
This Town Clearly has a problem It has created more debt from all sources than it can support and its obviously spending more than what New growth and development is brining in or is contributing . Some one Needs to get hold of the purse strings and Fast .

Leweez
Reply to  Sandpiper
30 October 2021 4:40 pm

Good observations Sandpiper,
If the Town is trying to run like a business, why would they lower the interest rate payable on the “forever” loan to Lakefront Utilities?
That doesn’t seem like a good business move to me, after all Lakefront is a “private” company and not really part of the Town of Cobourg🙄

Sandpiper
Reply to  Leweez
30 October 2021 5:26 pm

Really Are you Sure ??

Leweez
Reply to  Sandpiper
30 October 2021 5:39 pm

Depends on who you talk to Sandpiper🤷‍♂️

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Sandpiper
30 October 2021 6:12 pm

Are you asking about “private company” or lowering the rate. Both are absolutely true! Being private is why they refuse to reveal their executive salaries. Perhaps a year ago Council approved reducing the interest rate on the Lakefront loan to the OEB approved affiliate long term cost of capital rate (the revised rate was announced last Friday as 3.49% See https://www.rds.oeb.ca/CMWebDrawer/Record/730013/File/document.

JimT
Reply to  Ken Strauss
1 November 2021 12:29 pm

So we really have no way of knowing how much of our utility payments might be accumulating in the accounts of Lakefront Utilities and how some town officials might be able to use them for excessive salaries and benefits and perhaps pet projects besides?

Bryan
Reply to  Leweez
30 October 2021 7:14 pm

Leweez:

There is little evidence that the Town is being run like a business. Even claiming they are trying to be run like a business is a stretch. The movement in that direction is painfully slow.

LUI is 99.9% owned by the Town.

LUI requested the interest rate reduction because they couldn’t claim half of the interest as an expense for rate setting purposes. In other words, LUI couldn’t recover half of the interest from its customers. This led, in part, to cash flow problems, just as the CTA predicted during LUI’s 2016 rate setting hearing.

The Town consistently overspends its budget, so the Town has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
30 October 2021 7:19 pm

How convenient, they are private when they don’t want to disclose management wages, but public when they need financial assistance from the town.
what a perfect world they must have

Last edited 1 month ago by Leweez
Sandpiper
Reply to  Leweez
30 October 2021 8:35 pm

Accountability and accuracy is part of running any Business
even Not for profit

Concerned
Reply to  Sandpiper
2 November 2021 8:58 am

Well it’s good that our current CAO had lots of experience with not for profits then so she is bringing that experience to her job.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 9:47 am

Sandpiper and Concerned,
For profit and not for profit, they are the same as far as running one. Both have to make a profit in order to continue, to be self sustainable.
The main difference between an FP and NFP is that the NFP has no shareholders (owners) and does not distribute its profit to the owners

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
2 November 2021 10:41 am

We will agree to disagree on that. Generally, not-for-profits make little to no money and are funded through provincial and federal grants while supporting government programs. Their focus is not profit based but providing a service on behalf of the government generally while they also receive special tax breaks that for profit businesses do not get.

Last edited 1 month ago by Concerned
Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 11:10 am

Concerned,
You Wrote “…not-for-profits make little to no money and are funded through provincial and federal grants while supporting government programs. There focus is not profit based but providing a service on behalf of the government generally while they also receive special tax breaks that for profit businesses do not get…”.

For me, this indicates that you have a selective understanding of what NFPs are. Certainly, municipalities and, in fact, all governments and their agencies are NFPs, as are charities and countless sports, cultural and social “membership” based organizations.

NFPs have to make money (profit) in order to survive. Many (most?) do not receive government grants. As I noted previously, “NFP” has nothing to do with earning a profit or not. It has to do with the organizations equity (ownership) structure and that NFPs do not distribute their profit to their “owners”

There is nothing to “disagree” about. These are the defined characteristics of an NFP as set out in statute (corporations acts and income tax act).

Items of interest:
in 2020, our little town of Cobourg made a profit of $11M. So much for “….not-for-profits make little to no money….”. and
“….are funded through provincial and federal grants….” Cobourg received $4.75M in government grants out of total revenue of $60M

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
2 November 2021 11:17 am

Sure there is, there is a large difference in the size of profit a for profit and not for profit organization aims to make.

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
2 November 2021 11:22 am

Even those who don’t get government grants look to break even or slightly but are not looking to make huge sums of money, other than maybe a golf course. The whole purpose is not to be solely for profit and when researched further, those golf courses that are registered as NFP are being scrutinized by CRA to see if they still actually meet the criteria. So yes I will disagree with you.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 12:22 pm

Concerned:
Registered as an NFP?
Registered with whom?
What CRA criteria?
I believe you are confusing charities with NFPs. Charities are NFPs by definition but most NFPs are not charities. The CRA monitors charities for “charity” compliance, not NFPs. The CRA has no interest in the NFPs’ organizational structure or what they do with their surplus (profit)

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
2 November 2021 1:10 pm

Can they not lose their tax exempt status if they make too much?

Last edited 1 month ago by Concerned
Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 1:34 pm

Concerned,

You wrote ….”Can they not lose their tax exempt status if they make too much?…”
This is not correct for charities, which the CRA does monitor, or NFPs in general.

NFP is an organizational structure and is “granted” by the corporations act (prov & fed). The CRA has no authority to “remove” NFP status.
You wrote “…Make too much lose your NFP status…” How much is too much?
In 2020,the City of Toronto (an NFP) had a surplus (profit) of $1.622B (billion)

The CRA can (and does) delist (remove) an NFP’s “charity status” for failure to obey the CRA’s “charity rules”

Registered charities (there are no other kind) are listed on the CRA’s website. You can view a variety of info including financial returns.

The CRA does not maintain a similar listing for NFPs.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
2 November 2021 11:30 am

Little to no money as far as supporting the costs to operate their organization, thus why golf courses are being looked at so strongly. Their goal is to make enough to support operations not to reward themselves.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 12:27 pm

Concerned,
Golf courses have been under scrutiny for years, not because they are NFPs, but because they pay relatively little in property taxes. Some municipalities do not value golf courses as recreational and green space. They would prefer condos and the increased property tax.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Leweez
1 November 2021 10:15 am

Did you know Some Towns in Ont / Can are actually reducing the
Taxes on small Commercial Property to help out the Tenants and Landlords . —And get this Tax reductions for Seniors to help them
afford to stay in their homes .

How can that beeeee

Bryan
Reply to  Sandpiper
1 November 2021 10:49 am

Sandpiper,
This is interesting news.
Please share the links to this info.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
1 November 2021 11:29 am

A 15% reduction in property tax for business properties smaller than 25000 sq ft in Ottawa (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/small-business-tax-break-2022-1.6199469) is one good example. Instead in Cobourg we plan to raise property taxes by 5+%.

Bryan
Reply to  Ken Strauss
1 November 2021 11:45 am

Sandpiper and KS,

Good to know.
Are there similar examples for the “senior’s” tax reduction

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

What a good example a town that isn’t even close to our size and has a massive tax base compare
to Cobourg. You should compare us to Hamilton and Vaughan as well then.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
1 November 2021 1:03 pm

Concerned, it is a percentage reduction rather than an absolute amount so the size of the municipality is mostly irrelevant.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
1 November 2021 1:25 pm

Concerned,
The important aspect is the mechanism that can hopefully be replicated locally, not the quantum.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Concerned
Reply to  Sandpiper
1 November 2021 1:53 pm

Do you know a lot of small towns are raising taxes as well.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
1 November 2021 2:57 pm

Concerned,

Are you suggesting that Cobourg should be like lemmings and follow these other towns’ example?

Dubious
Reply to  Concerned
1 November 2021 4:50 pm

Are the small towns raising taxes the ones with all employees working from home on full pay?

Concerned
Reply to  Dubious
2 November 2021 8:14 am

No I showing what a silly comment that oh some small towns are cutting taxes. The fact is many municipalities are in very different positions and to make a throw away comment like some are cutting taxes is useless.

Dubious
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 8:20 am

Did you read the article? It supplies the rationale for a tax cut.

If, like other towns, Cobourg had reduced the pay of non-working employees we would have the money to cut taxes instead of spending another $1M per year on more employees.

Concerned
Reply to  Dubious
2 November 2021 8:33 am

Did anyone ask council or the previous CAO why no one was laid off? I do t think so? Maybe I’m wrong.

Concerned
Reply to  Dubious
2 November 2021 8:15 am

Wow you really dislike government employees don’t you. Many large businesses still have most of their employees working from home as well. The point is they are still working and getting the job done that needs to be done. Get over it!

Dunkirk
29 October 2021 12:08 pm

The late Steve Jobs said, “You don’t hire smart people and then tell them what to do. You hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Assuming that our Council and consultants have hired some smart people—like the CAO— and she wants to spend $1mm, then, rather approving without question or disapproving or kicking the can down the road endlessly…..lets find out when/how specifically, our payback is coming on this investment.
Venture capital wants 4 X their investment….
Private equity sometimes more….
Banks want principal and interest…
What should ratepayers get?
If we spend the million now–when do we get it back with a decent multiple?

Lets face it–when we are already facing a 5+% tax increase, then, our payback expectations on any re-org naturally have to go up.

Time and Money people…
When and how much?

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
29 October 2021 12:15 pm

Well the report tells us all the things they are going to improve, wouldn’t that be staffsyardstick then? Better services, more revenues and less waste?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
30 October 2021 3:31 pm

Well the report tells us all the things they are going to improve, wouldn’t that be staffs yardstick then? Better services, more revenues and less waste?

Concerned, that is a very vague list of hopes rather than quantifiable results. As the TV advert says: “Hope is not a plan!”

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
29 October 2021 1:27 pm

Dunkirk- Remember the 1m is being spent over three years not one. If revenues and grant access increases as they suspect, the hit in year two and three could be less. Also if they are able to streamline other items this would also provide additional savings. The town needs to be brought in to current times.

cornbread
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 4:51 pm

We are still over 1 million dollars in the hole with the CCC ever year…here goes another million. Carbon tax has added about 18% to our heating costs, not to mention our gasoline costs. Governm ents want more, police want more, firemen want more, town union pensions outpace defined contribution pensions. Cobourg…tighten your belt like the rest of us.

Dunkirk
Reply to  Concerned
30 October 2021 7:45 am

Concerned—you are not wrong—and the fact that you are throwing some suggestions out as possible justifications for an unanticipated 7 figure expense is okay. Lets just ask the questions now and get very specific answers on dates/times and amounts so in a couple years we know if we got value and that the CAO did her job.

With salaries/benefits the number one expense in our budget already, the ask for another million in salaries and benefits should be something that is given close scrutiny. In that regard I tend to be more on the side of Cornbread who replied to you as well. Our Town simply does not have a good track record when it comes to this type of decision-making.

As our recently retired Town Planner suggested–our growth plan numbers and assumptions come from a Provincial framework. For 3 decades we generally assume that our town will grow by 300-800 new jobs a year. We grow our municipal gov’t accordingly. The issue is that those jobs have NEVER materialized. Can anyone suggest where last year’s 300 new jobs came from?… How about the year before?….In fact–today, all new jobs and arguably, any that are ‘living wage’ jobs, come from public agencies: education, health care, town, county, feds, hydro, justice etc.

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 November 2021 8:42 am

Maybe the fact that for two years you’ve had no manager leading EC Dev, where the primary focus is to attract new business could be a problem. Maybe the individual who was there before was qualified to do the job.

Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 9:01 am

Should be wasn’t qualified to do the job.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 10:05 am

Concerned, why do you feel that growth is important or even desirable? How will growth help the majority of current Cobourg residents? A huge fraction of our residents are retirees and have no desire for another job. Council has decided that assessment growth requires a commensurate increase in expenditures so there is no property tax reduction benefit for growth. Growth means more traffic, more crowding, more pollution, more addicts and more crime. Cobourg has been a very pleasant albeit somewhat sleepy town for many years. A great place to live! Why grow?

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 November 2021 10:21 am

It not a question of important or desireable, it is going to happen whether you like it or not. Urban sprawl is happening and we are next in line. If you don’t want growth then put a sign on the front door of the town, closed for business.

Last edited 1 month ago by Concerned
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 11:00 am

An excellent suggestion! Perhaps we can recycle the “Beach closed for COVID” sign. More seriously, why would we possibly encourage the possibly inevitable growth?

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 November 2021 11:53 am

Seriously, it’s not a question of encouraging it is just happening due to urban sprawl from Toronto. Did we advertise for Tribute to come here or did they make application and come to us? You can’t fight progress it is going to happen.

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 November 2021 11:35 am

Your understanding of growth is so completely negative and short sighted. As it relates to the “huge fraction of our residents” – Who will run the seniors programs, shuttle/taxi them around, bring meals to homes, care for them in home, who runs the retails stores they patronize, plow their streets and pick up their garbage, deliver flowers/prescriptions/food, who will run the church/clinic/hospital/dental office/pharmacy, where are the doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, gerontologist, denturists, NP’s, PSW’s, LTC home employees, police, fire, funeral directors, etc… coming from? How does any of this happen and continue to happen without growth?

Growth brings new ideas, diversity, energy, investment and life to a community.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
2 November 2021 12:41 pm

Rob, we currently have a somewhat balanced mix of retirees, retail and medical workers, funeral directors, denturists, flower deliveries, etc, etc. There may be a shortage in some specific occupations but general growth is completely unnecessary to fill the needs of our current residents.

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 November 2021 1:46 pm

Without growth a town, our town, dies. In particular given a huge fraction of the population is in the late autumn or winter of their lives. I understand, you dislike growth – I happen to support intelligent and sustainable growth. And like Christmas, its coming, whether you’re ready or not. I just hope we can employ and elect representatives who respect the intelligent and sustain aspects of growth.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
2 November 2021 2:30 pm

Of course a portion of any town’s population dies each year. A town does not “die” assuming that new people move to town and existing residents have sufficient children to make up for the annual deaths plus those who move away. However, there is absolutely no reason that net growth should be an objective; significant growth has few benefits for current residents.

Kevin
Reply to  Rob
3 November 2021 8:42 am

Rob, what do you mean by sustainable growth? In this discussion growth refers to the population of Cobourg. At any positive growth rate the population will eventually become too large. There is only so much space in this town/country/planet for people. No growth is sustainable indefinitely. Intelligent growth could be a useful idea. In Cobourg we need people to provide various services. Doctors, for example, are needed and they might have children so schools with teachers are needed. If we have a shortage of doctors or teachers then perhaps intelligent growth would be to attract those people. I know of a school bus route that was cancelled because of a driver shortage. Children were bused to Cobourg from north of town. Maybe that is not really a Cobourg problem but it does have an impact on Cobourg. The growth rate of cannabis stores in Cobourg is not sustainable, in my opinion. But market forces will take care of that. Hopefully the decision to open so many cannabis stores is not an attempt to deal with the school bus driver shortage. Are there examples of recent decisions supporting intelligent growth?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 November 2021 11:40 am

The Cobourg I grew up in was largely confined to Burnham, University Ave and Abbott Blvd. Beyond that there was countryside, where my grandparents lived at Hull’s Corner. The Town Dump was there and is now covered by the 401 cloverleaf. That was a Small Town. It was made up of many families — that we knew. That Small Town still exists, but it has become surrounded by suburbs that have burdened the Small Town. It is burdened by many GTA retirees who want to live their final years in a suburb attached to a Small Town or parents who want to bring their children up in a Small Town.

It used to be when I was a kid that I could bike out to the countryside in 5-10 minutes. Today, I would be biking another 2 or 3 additional miles to experience the semblance of countryside. Where I used to catch butterflies in the meadows west of Burnham Street has been transformed into a suburb that demanded services and there were several years of resistance to Northumberland Mall and Walmart because of its detrimental effect on downtown retail. But the suburbs prevailed over the Small Town. With the development of the east end and northeast, it will complete the surrounding of the Small Town by GTA demographics. Retired ones at that, growing Cobourg into a geriatric ward or long care small town.

However, this is balanced by all kinds of small and medium entrepreneurs who keep the Small Town fresh, with employment, with new ideas or services. This growth is inevitable and somewhere in the middle of this muddle is a Small Town that not only survives, but somehow thrives in spite of the urban forces surrounding it.

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 November 2021 8:45 am

I would argue that until recently we relied too much on people from the town to run the town and with the nepotism that occurred, that has hurt us. You need new ideas and bringing in new people from outside the town may help that, clearly hiring from within didnt! Based on comments on other topics people were tired of the towns hiring practises and they seem to have changed.

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 November 2021 8:49 am

Those are all fair questions to ask as you state but many on here do not seem to want to give the new CAO a chance to make change and improve things. Stop living in the past, yes we have been mismanaged, how about we give this new CAO who isn’t connected to the town or it old ways and see if she can correct things.

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 November 2021 8:54 am

We are a very small town and to expect upper tier jobs such as you mention to just materialize, it isn’t going to happen. You can look at good high paying trades jobs with the residential growth we are about to go through with Tribute homes coming to town. Hopefully someone with a strong EC Dev background from out of town will have some strong ideas on what we can do moving forward. It’s not just about the positions but making sure we hire strong people into them. On the first go around if we Don’t have strong applicants we shouldn’t hire for the sake of hiring and go out a second time. Make sure we get this right so the town can be successful because it can be.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Dunkirk
29 October 2021 10:12 pm

I would offer one caution which may or not be agreed to and that is that a government is not a business … governments are not that simple.

Policies and supporting programmes are decided on not to ensure a return on equity but to prevent an economy dominated by the few, and to ensure compliance with regulation as a means of control and access to social and physical assets to the benefit of all.

I suggest the reorganization of our local government is justified if it results in a better informed Council and a more efficient and effective process by which it decides policies and programmes.

The business model should be applied when regulations are used as a means of control and programmes are carried out.

Dunkirk
Reply to  Keith Oliver
30 October 2021 8:01 am

Keith–you are not wrong, but our new CAO is being paid almost the same amount as the Premier of Ontario. While neither is ‘running a business’, one has to answer to the citizens every 4 years and he is managing a budget 2,000 times the size. Our CAO just has to answer to a few tired faces at Council, who were anguishing over how they could get themselves re-elected next year on the heels of pushing through a 5%+ tax increase on the voters and probably were really not expecting her to ask for another $1mm a few short months after they hired her.

Our successive Councils not asking the hard questions is precisely how we find ourselves in a situation where more bodies always seem to be required to count the other bodies. Has your service level gone up since the arrival of our new CAO? Do you feel better informed?

Concerned
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 November 2021 8:20 am

Wow where do you get your info from, the two salaries aren’t even close! The premier with his MPP and Premier salary makes over 300k. Even with his premier salary there is still a 30k difference. Looking at the sunshine list did you know she took about a 10k salary cut to come here! The new CAO has had to wait for a service level review and org review before making changes now her work begins but you have clearly made up your mind on her.

Last edited 1 month ago by Concerned
Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 10:30 am

Also if you want to compare apples to apples you
Would compare the CAO salary to other CAOs and when you look at the 2020 average our CAO is below the 2020 average by 6k.

Kevin
Reply to  Dunkirk
30 October 2021 7:35 am

Good question. What happens if the changes do not work? To answer that we first need to know exactly what is expected to happen so we can clearly evaluate the success or failure. Will the people proposing the changes face consequences? A pay cut or being fired for example may be appropriate. For anybody that knows what happens with public education you may understand my concerns. There seems to be in a constant state of change with promises that the latest ideas will make everything right. If any of the ideas actual lived up to the promises then there would be no need for the constant changes (history and science curriculum would need updating from time to time). Some changes in education involved the construction of schools with large classrooms to hold four classes at once. This way any student that was bored with one class could simple listen to one of the other three. Not so surprisingly it did not work. With education can we not try to model the best systems from other countries? Can we not find out what other similar sized towns in Ontario are doing and model them? How much do they pay in taxes, how many town employees do they have to provide the services they offer? Maybe Cobourg is already more efficient than other towns. Maybe not and we could model the organization structure that some of the better towns use. Maybe this is the experience that our new CAO is bringing to Cobourg. What happens if we spend the $1 million and there is no real change?

Dunkirk
Reply to  Kevin
30 October 2021 10:02 am

Great questions…

cornbread
Reply to  Kevin
30 October 2021 10:40 am

The trouble is that once you hire new additional people…it’s darn difficult to get rid of them unless you have new hires on strictly a “CONTRACT” basis with no re-signing or letting-go bonuses. Let’s get Cobourg back to “Need To” versus “Nice To” and let see some belt tightening.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Kevin
30 October 2021 11:11 am

Yes similar sized Towns reduced Taxes as all our Council and Mayor Campaigned on So how many tax hikes have we seen since this council came to be . Anyone fired yet , any reductions so far ??????????

Concerned
Reply to  Kevin
2 November 2021 8:28 am

Negative comments everywhere…and what if the changes do work? No one will come here and eat crow they will just find something else to complain about.

Concerned
Reply to  Kevin
2 November 2021 8:40 am

Did you not read the report? We were compared to other similar sized towns, this is why they are recommending these positions be added. Other towns that are being run more efficiently have these types of positions in their structure. What do if we don’t make the change and nothing improves or gets worse?

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
2 November 2021 9:34 am

Concerned,

You wrote “….Other towns that are being run more efficiently….”. What metrics support this claim?
Do their roads have fewer potholes, their police solve more crimes, their firefighters put out more fires….?

ben
29 October 2021 7:12 am

“Tracey also suggests deferring that to the next term of Council The reason is because doing this now would create a lot of work and given the work involved with the organization change,”

OK here is one suggestion:

  1. Have one Regular Council meeting a month – to ratify decisions made in standing committees
  2. Establish 3 standing committees, all Councillors would sit on every committee:
  • Finance/ General Govt.
  • Planning and Development and Recreation/Culture
  • Operations

The Council business of the Town could be completed in a four week turnaround if all topics that went to committees were complete, if not they stayed in committee until a resolution was possible. And, all Councillors would all have the same information at the same time in order to make complete decisions.

PS, can I have my consultant’s fee now?

PPS
Overall, the open session meeting accomplished little- it was made clear that the decision on proceeding would be made in budget deliberations”———– Told you so!!

Last edited 1 month ago by Ben
Concerned
Reply to  ben
29 October 2021 8:45 am

Ben come on see.you know there will be a lot of work involved. John over simplified, she stated the org review and implementing anything authorized, the upcoming election and a few other things. Then you have to create policy documents for these committees. I understand your frustration but let’s not make things worse by oversimplifying a large process to implement these things when staff is already understaffed. And I think I know where council stands it appears they all support except DM and she never wants to spend a nickel unless it supports her aspirations of becoming Mayor. She will vote against this no matter what just so she can say see I didn’t want to raise you taxes but Mayor Henderson did.

Doug
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 9:58 am

Would it be ok to ask that you proof read before you post your comment. Seems like you have something worth saying but the punctuation, wrong words etc. make this very difficult to interpret. Who is DM? Thanks.

Concerned
Reply to  Doug
29 October 2021 10:13 am

Deputy Mayor. Yes of course.

Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 11:49 am

Sorry all redo for Doug. Sorry Doug

Ben, come on, you know there will be a lot of work involved. John over simplified the CAOs statement. She stated the org review and implementing anything authorized, the upcoming election and the work load already being managed by the Clerk are the main reasons, along with allowing the new Council to make this decision. Then you have to create policy documents for these committees, which without a dedicated policy writer currently will take a substantial amount of time. I understand your frustration, but let’s not make things worse by oversimplifying a large process to implement these things, when staff is already understaffed. Also, I think it was pretty clear where most councillors stand it appears they all support some if not all, as nothing was removed. Except the Deputy Mayor, she never supports additional spending unless it supports her aspirations of becoming Mayor. She will vote against this no matter what just so she can say see I didn’t want to raise your taxes but Mayor Henderson did. Sometimes leadership is not about making the popular decision but about making the right decision.

Last edited 1 month ago by Concerned
MiriamM
Reply to  ben
29 October 2021 12:31 pm

Ben, your idea should work. If packaged as a pilot project for a certain period of time, maybe 4 to 6 months starting in January 2022, gaps in policy would not be insurmountable. And the current Council has the advantage of having worked together for a few years already. Their collective experience would be helpful in identifying what works and where there are challenges. A lack of policy could be addressed through ‘borrowing’ from a comparable municipality (so much information is on line open source in the interest of transparency of local government) and/or suspending existing rules when confronted by a gap in policy direction.This boils down to meeting schedule and what is on the agenda. A concurrent review of how Council functions may also help inform how administration is organized. In any case, a new Council elected next year can decide how they wish to meet and it would be helpful to learn from a previous Council.

Concerned
28 October 2021 11:23 pm

The Deputy Mayor needs to stop trying to scare people. After new assessment growth the current tax levy increase is at 5.6 not 7.6 percent. Yes any increase sucks but let’s be honest with people.

Kevin
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 6:58 am

I do not see these numbers in the post above but they must be somewhere. If I understand correctly the town will get a 7.6 percent increase which comes in part from an increase of 5.6 percent in property taxes from existing properties. The other part of the increase will come for new construction like the apartment building on University and new homes in New Amherst. An increase to my property taxes of 5.6 percent is reason for me to be scared. I do not want to keep paying more so the town can hire more people to provide more services that I do not want.

Concerned
Reply to  Kevin
29 October 2021 9:05 am

It’s not about services you do or don’t want it’s about services needed to ensure the town is more efficient in spending our money and seeking out funds available to us.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Kevin
29 October 2021 2:57 pm

Kevin, it is reasonable to be scared! Taxes for some could increase by considerably more than *ONLY* 5.6%. It all depends on how the value of your property has changed relative to the value of the average town property. Building more “affordable” housing reduces the average and will mean that the taxes for those with higher end properties will increase by more than 5.6%.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 10:54 am

Concerned:
The increase in the portion of the proposed 2022 budget to be funded by property taxes increased 7.6%. This is an empirical fact.
The “who will pay” allocation between old and new assessment is 5.6% and 2%
This does not mean that individual property taxes will go up by these rates. The total levy is only one factor, The MPAC assessment also has a significant effect

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
29 October 2021 11:28 am

Correct but the only one who can control what MPAC does is MPAC. The town cannot influence this. We have to remember this would not be needed if over the years, previous councils recognized these needs and actually funded them. Now here we are we can open the town to severe risk to litigation continue to waste money or properly staff the town and move forward, not just focus on the bottom line. Let’s say for instance the increase is 7% from the town (again we cannot control MPAC). That is approximately, on a property paying 5k/year, 350 dollars or 29 dollars per month. Or we can cancel all kinds of services, still have about a 3.5 per cent increase, this would still be a 14 dollars per month increase, but lose lots of services. There are other revenue items I think the town should pursue, that they aren’t now, which would really help. So again, I feel peoples pain, no one likes paying more taxes. But if we don’t fix this, it could cost a lot more due to lost possible revenues, litigation etc. I don’t think people realize how bare bones this town’s budget is, there is very little non-discretionary spending and I challenge someone to provide substantial cuts that won’t substantially cut services.

Last edited 1 month ago by Concerned
ben
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 2:18 pm

In a rational sense your comment makes sense but most on this Board want to cut the services they don’t use and let the rest fend for themselves.

Concerned
Reply to  ben
1 November 2021 12:54 pm

Wow were you ever right.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 3:08 pm

Concerned, please clarify what you mean by “But if we don’t fix this, it could cost a lot more due to lost possible revenues, litigation etc“. What needs fixing? What is the source of revenue that might be lost? What is the litigation exposure? How much do you think that it will cost to fix whatever is broken? Surely it would be better to tighten our belts rather than hire a dozen more managers…

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
29 October 2021 5:27 pm

Well where shall I begin, as stated last night we are missing out on grants because we don’t have a skilled person writing these grants. We are spending more than we probably should on procurement because we aren’t using someone qualified in this area who knows how to find savings instead of just finding three bids. User fee reviews, policies such as for STRA that could provide new revenues. Long term planning capabilities that will allow us to properly budget for the town so we don’t run into issues like the marina or town asset management. ECD to look at bringing new business to Cobourg, or taking advantage of corporate naming rights that could provide revenues. there are lots of opportunities we are missing out on because staff can only keep up with the day to day and don’t have the time or staff to look out more than a few months. We need to be looking out 5/10/15 years. That is what strategic and long term planning does.

Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 5:33 pm

Show me a corporation that doesn’t do strategic or long term planning properly and I will show a corporation doomed to fail!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
29 October 2021 5:37 pm

Concerned, those are mostly examples of wishful thinking. We’ve had an economic development department for years with no benefits. The STR fees should be to solve a problem rather than a revenue source. There is no reason to believe that a procurement person would save more than their salary (perhaps savings should be her performance measure?). Any grants are just a case of taking from the taxpayer’s left pocket to fill the right pocket. You haven’t even mentioned the critical litigation issues that you claimed. What about them?

Ahewson
Reply to  Ken Strauss
29 October 2021 10:57 pm

I’d rather the money being taken from my left pocket end up in my right pocket (Cobourg) than someone else’s pocket.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ahewson
30 October 2021 2:08 pm

Ahewson, a major problem with grants is that most are matching funds. That is, Queen’s Park or Ottawa (left pocket) pay half and Cobourg (right pocket) pays the rest. We end up doing things that are not required or even desirable — the adult fitness park — so that we get the free money. Like the CCC grant, the free money keeps on taking!

Ahewson
Reply to  Ken Strauss
30 October 2021 6:09 pm

That seems like a different issue to me. If there is a worthwhile project then grant money should be explored, welcomed and encouraged. The money will just end up elsewhere if not. I agree that the adult fitness park is a waste of taxpayer money but that is not a fault of the grant.

As for the CCC, I know you’re just using that as what you deem to be an example, but I’ve yet to see what the town was supposed to do there. Frankly, that was an excellent use of grant money. A new facility was needed in Cobourg one way or another. The town would have been on the hook for more money than the CCC cost, and the facility that ended up getting built would have been built to a worse standard. Jack Heehan and Memorial would have cost the town an astronomical amount to bring up to current standards and would still be subpar facilities. The CCC was a necessary evil, period.

Dunkirk
Reply to  Ahewson
31 October 2021 10:53 am

One smart poster said that we have an expense problem in Cobourg, not a revenue problem. So true. The challenge is that it’s always up to a tax increase to provide the solution regardless. We are about to grow by expanding horizontally. This will provide some revenue in terms of property tax, permit fees utility fees etc initially that the CAO wants to use for a re-org. What about the future responsibility and cost of servicing and maintaining the infrastructure? This is exactly what happened at the CCC whether we love that building or not–we just can’t afford it financially…and we can’t afford not to have it from a cultural standpoint.
Psychologists call this temporal discounting…..It’s easy today to rationalize that future expense of maintaining those new suburbs we are building especially when you have told yourself(or a misguided Council have convinced themselves) how assured you are of the new growth possibilities. This is how a town spends it way into bankruptcy.
I’d feel better about the $1mm re-org if it was being proposed that $200k came from the Police Budget; $100k from the Library; $200k from parks and the other half from ratepayers etc and then we have a real comparison of what we as a community, put value on and what really works for us in this town.

.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ahewson
31 October 2021 1:17 pm

Ahewson, Cobourg’s approach should be:
Build public consensus regarding what is needed, solicit grants and approve the project if it is cost effective after including the initial cost plus maintenance and other ongoing expenses.

Sadly, Cobourg’s approach is almost always:
Solicit grants, claim that due to grant expiry considerations we have to approve immediately with no time for public consensus and approve the project without consideration of maintenance and other ongoing expenses.

The adult fitness fiasco is a perfect example of the problem: Grant approved, Council quickly issued a tender and then approved purchase of equipment to meet grant deadlines even though the public’s feeling is that the facility will be little used. Even worse, the main proponent says that the approved equipment is largely unsuitable, we don’t yet know the location and we’ve been told that future costs — staff assistance, equipment maintenance, snow clearing and liability from injuries — will cost nothing.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss