Consultant for User Fee Study Approved

At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on August 15, Council voted to award a contract to Watson & Associates for a Comprehensive User Fee Study for a total cost of $91,288.90.  This despite it being more than the budget allocation of $35,000 and that a second bid closer to the budget was also received.  Cobourg News Blog reported on this under the heading “Does Cobourg Use Too Many Consultants” (see Resources below).  But because Council is now in a “Lame Duck period”, the additional amount of over $50K is not allowed so the matter came back to Council.  The contract was re-negotiated to a lesser amount ($83,500) by assigning some of the work to Staff so the amount over budget was less than $50,000.  This tweak would allow the work to be completed in 2022.

But this change needed Council approval so it came to the CoW on 6 September.  Once again, Suzanne Séguin and Councillor Chorley wanted the matter deferred to next year so that the budget would not be exceeded (and maybe Staff could do even more of the work?).  Mayor Henderson objected saying that the issue had been around for his 12 years on Council and need to be done this year.  Suzanne then asked him why had it not been done earlier?  John initially avoided an answer but when pressed said that Staff set priorities.

Suzanne presented a motion to defer approval until the new year when it could be added to the 2023 budget but Adam Bureau moved in favour of the original motion (on the Agenda) that the contract be awarded now.  It would then be expected to be completed in 2022 and the recommended changes to fees would be incorporated in the 2023 budget.

In the end, Adam’s motion was approved 5-2 with Suzanne and Emily voting against – that is, Suzanne and Emily voted to defer the award for consideration next year.

So what is “Lame Duck”?  Provincial legislation says that if on nomination day (August 19), fewer than 75% are running for re-election, then it is in a “lame duck” position and restrictions apply as to what it can do.  Emily is not running and one of Nicole and Suzanne will not be in the next Council so that’s two.  That leaves five who are running again.  75% of 7 is 5.25.  Five is less than 5.25 so there is a “lame duck” condition.  This problem can be avoided if a by-law is passed to delegate relevant authority to (e.g.) the CAO but this was not done.

Lame Duck limitations are: Council cannot appoint or remove any officer of the municipality, hire or dismiss any member of town staff, dispose of any town property exceeding $50,000, or make any expenditures and/or incur liability exceeding $50,000.

And one last thing, why is this post later than usual? Well your faithful reporter missed the Council meeting Tuesday night then had to watch the video on Wednesday – and that was a bit late coming online.  Better late than never and still in time for the email next morning.


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Old Sailor
8 September 2022 11:08 am

I am not sure why we keep offering the same small salaries for the Council positions – especially the Mayor’s position – and expect to have new candidates with business smarts and proven leadership experience. The “Town of Cobourg'” is a $60+ million business. Not a Woody’s Smoke Shop. I really don’t care what other towns are paying their Councillors.

Reply to  Old Sailor
8 September 2022 1:39 pm

Old Sailor,

Totally agree.

The Town espouses living wage, but pays it lip service in regards to Council compensation. This is an embarrassment for a $60M+ corporation.
In May 2018, the late Paul Pagnuelo proposed that Council compensation be increased to:
Mayor: $48,100
Deputy Mayor: $43,290
Councilor: $38,480

This was in stark contrast to the ad hoc compensation committee’s timid recommendation.

Paul’s believed that the Town should pay fair compensation for the job and needed to increase the compensation for the following reasons:

  • Need for greater accountability to address growing community expectations
  • Council salaries should not be a barrier to those seeking to serve in public office
  • Level of compensation should attract and retain competent, motivated and well qualified community minded citizens
  • The complexity, responsibilities, time commitments and accountabilities expected of each Council member
  • Remuneration must be transparent, fiscally responsible, and easily understood by the electorate

These reasons are still valid today, perhaps more so.

The Council of the day rejected the ad hoc compensation committee’s recommendation and approved a modest increase with another review near the end of Council’s term.

Council was given a modest increase some months ago. The two Council members appointed to the CPSB no longer get paid for that post.

In the spirit of Paul’s recommendations, I suggest Council’s compensation be increased as follows, effective Jan 1 2023:
Mayor: $65,000 (current $45,412)
Deputy Mayor: $58,500 (current $31,082)
Councilor: $52,000 (current 25,963)

The Holdco board fee paid to the Council members sitting on that board would be eliminated.

As Paul noted: “Good governance is not free. We don’t ask or expect staff to volunteer their time, so why should we expect our members of Council to do so”

Last edited 4 months ago by Bryan
Old Sailor
Reply to  Bryan
8 September 2022 2:26 pm


I second your motion on Council salary increases. It is time we stopped paying penaut salaries and expect a different performance from Council. Especially the from the Mayor’s office. I would have doubled the current salaries but will wait til the next municipal election to make that recommendation.

Reply to  Bryan
9 September 2022 7:27 am

Paul wasn’t the only one that advocated for higher salaries at that time Bryan.

Reply to  ben
9 September 2022 10:27 am


You are correct and my apology for not mentioning your submission to the ad-hoc compensation committee.
This idea of better pay for members of Council is not new. Similar recommendations were made in 2015
and 2001

Last edited 4 months ago by Bryan
Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Old Sailor
8 September 2022 3:47 pm

Old Sailor

How much do you propose paying councillors then? What Is your limit in taxes?

Bwtter yet, why don’t you just give them all of your income so that they can plan every facet of your life for you and make your life easier.

Sounds like a utopia doesn’t it!

Think about what your saying.

Cap’n John
Reply to  Old Sailor
8 September 2022 9:45 pm

It is an interesting question… to get better decision making on critical Town issues.
One way may be to pay Councillors more, in order to attract better qualifications, experience and knowledge.
Another way may be to hire more qualified senior staff.
I believe we need to do both.

8 September 2022 9:38 am

Thanks so much for keeping us informed John. I have one question. When you say, The contract was re-negotiated to a lesser amount ($83,500) by assigning some of the work to Staff… …Was the re-negotiated price done prior to the COW? I assume the Consultant, Watson & Associates (who I Googled, and if it’s the same Company, they are based in Mississauga) are aware of the renegotiated price? It will be really interesting (and probably depressing) to hear the Actual price this Consultant is paid in the end.

8 September 2022 9:34 am

This item shows the lack of business acumen that exists from the leadership down in council to even discuss this topic and size of consulting contract. Surely there must be some bright staff members who could do this study internally. Perhaps the expectations of hidden taxpayer fees are very high, to cover these costs. Totally out of proportion for a town the size of Cobourg.

Cobourg taxpayer 2
8 September 2022 9:03 am

John – I greatly respect and appreciation your dedication to keeping us informed – to the extent of sitting through a recording of the meeting in order to report accurately. In today’s world, most would just rely on the “talk of the Town” – or not report on it all.

ken prue
8 September 2022 8:49 am

John Draper. What a great piece of journalism! Great detail. Informative and expository without being defamatory. Keep asking whether this town uses too many consultants. It does! Hire, train and retain staff that can do the work. That’s my nickel.

8 September 2022 8:36 am

The Town procurement policy needs to be revised if purchases like this are allowed.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
8 September 2022 8:35 am

How ironic! The stupidity! Why would we hire a consultant for $80k to study if we spend to much on consultants! This is the exact idiocracy that is not needed!

I would much rather these clueless politicians do nothing and take their $25k as “hush money” rather than spending all of our money on social programs, consultants and committees.

And people on this blog think that I am the crazy one for espousing less/minimal government… because this is the kind of hubris that happens when there is zero accountability and the focus is NOT on economics.

Aaron, Miriam, Suzanne, all the rest of you candidates….time to speak up and speak out

Last edited 4 months ago by Concerned Cobourg Resident
Ken Strauss
7 September 2022 10:46 pm

So all, except Suzanne and Emily, voted to pay $83,500 ($48,500 more than budgeted) to a consultant in a deceitful circumvention of the Lame Duck rule? Cobourg is hiring yet another consultant at the last minute for a project that has been pending for 12 years or Mr. Henderson’s entire time on Council? This excess payment is solely to complete a nonessential project by the end of 2022? Why?

John, did I understand your post correctly?

If my understanding is correct, the claims of fiscal prudence by everyone running for re-election (other than Ms. Séguin) are complete nonsense. If you care about the prudent use of our tax dollars it is clear who doesn’t deserve your vote. I hate to think what will happen if Councillor Nicole Beatty becomes our next Deputy Mayor and Budget Chief!

Last edited 4 months ago by Ken Strauss
New to Cobourg
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 September 2022 8:21 am

Looks like Henderson is trying to pull a Hail Mary at the end of his term hoping to get more votes. Shame on him and the Council. This should have been deferred to the new Mayor and New Council.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 September 2022 9:07 am

I’m curious to know the reasoning why people voted this post thumbs down? Do these same people like to pay more taxes, have less spending power and have to work harder for the same pay?

What a brave new world we live in…

Michael H
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 September 2022 10:55 am

It boggles the mind. They could just Google “how to run a town” and save us a pile of money.

Cobourg taxpayer
7 September 2022 10:29 pm

Well this should be an indication of who to vote for in the upcoming municipal election. Consideration for the spending of taxpayers money or not!