First Budget Review meeting

In the first 2023 budget review session, Council made no decisions but lots of ideas were suggested.  The meeting on Tuesday (7 Feb) was chaired by Mayor Cleveland although assisted somewhat by Deputy Mayor Beatty – budget responsibility has not so far been delegated to the Deputy Mayor;  that awaits the Governance review.  There was not a line by line review – instead the Mayor asked Councillors to talk about any items they wanted to discuss and if there were any changes to be made, that would be noted on a virtual whiteboard for decision at the end of the meeting.  Most suggestions required spending more money and a few were for savings.  The total was estimated at $600K which would result in another approx. 3% on top of the initial draft estimate of 5.5% (after growth).

The “decisions” will be made on the second budget review day (Thursday 9 Feb) and since they are all being reviewed at around the same time, it will be clear what the tax levy impact will be for each item.  The delay gives councillors time to consider what they really want to approve.

Additions and deletions – highlights

Some budgets were approved (at this stage) without change.  Both the Art Gallery and Library budgets were “approved” with no changes; and the Town may only approve or disapprove the Police budget as a whole so it was “approved” unchanged.

So what are the suggested changes?  Not all changes are contentious or significant but some are.  Here is my list of highlights:

Community Grants:  Councillor Beatty provided a list of suggested grants that totaled $29,200 but the list was not made available to the public.  However, Nicole said that her philosophy was to provide some money to each applicant.  Although all councillors did not agree with the list and even wanted more, Councillor Darling suggested that it was time to stop grants altogether.  He said that things like the Concert Hall were already subsidized and Council’s job was not to subsidize community groups.  He thought it unlikely that any would stop functioning if not given a grant.

Sustainability Officer:  A new position was planned but it was not clear that the Town is ready for this – is there enough work for such a person?

Centennial pool.  It would cost $19K for maintenance items to extend service for another year and over $100K for pool lifeguards

Trees and beach mat: Aaron Burchat suggested adding $70K for planting trees and $30K for the MobiMat.  Director Geerts said that to achieve the Urban Forest goal of 35% tree coverage would require planting 2000 new trees per year until 2035.  That compares to 200 per year currently.

Pickleball court:  It was suggested that $100K be added for a new pickleball court although this was on condition that the same amount be raised by fundraising

Fundraising:  The town can issue tax receipts for donations and community groups could use this if they have a suitable project (e.g. Pickleball court, Centennial Pool, Skateboard Park).  Their donation would be to the town but directed to their project.

Emergency Planner:  the position is currently vacant and now reports to Brent Larmer instead of the Fire Chief.  Maybe this person could be part-time?

Council compensation: Lucas wanted Councillor remuneration be as suggested yesterday by Bryan Lambert and be effective April 1.  His suggestion would cost $110K for 2023.  The new salaries would be: Mayor – $65,000 (+43%); Deputy Mayor – $52,000 (+67%); Councillor – $45,500 (+75%).  See resources to download Bryan’s presentation.

Office of CAO.  Lucas wants an additional executive assistant as well as the current executive assistant shared with the CAO.   Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty objected and Miriam suggested this be deferred at least until after the Governance review.

Web site.  Lucas wants the Town’s web site to be redeveloped – perhaps the amount in 2023 should be small and just cover exploring the idea.  Pricing it?

Items referred to budget deliberations. The Agenda included a list of items “Referred to the 2023 Municipal Budget by Council and Public Budget Submissions”.  Some of these are now in the budget, some are now in proposed additions and a few are not included in current budget discussions at all. One suggestion was to discard those not included.  Here is the list.

A review of the entire budget was completed by the end of the day when the meeting was adjourned until Thursday 10:00 am.  At that time, they will have to decide how many of the additions and deletions will be included.  One of the items will be the list of community grants approved, if any.  Stay tuned.


Print Article: 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Frederick and Nancy Thomas
9 February 2023 10:43 am

We are certainly willing to make a donation to Centennial Pool. Are you going to set up official fund raising so the area doesn’t lose this wonderful recreational facility? It’s another of those features which makes Cobourg special.

Reply to  Frederick and Nancy Thomas
12 February 2023 8:14 am

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The problem I’m having is raising money for something and not knowing what next will be on the chopping block… what next our mayor may consider to be a luxury.

8 February 2023 4:42 pm

My beefs are the following: Compensation increases – non starter for me; there is nothing in the past, present, future that indicates that the quality, performance of their services have or will improve. Grants – having a 29K list waved about (without transparency) is silly, which is what I expected from Councillor Beatty; appears to fear making hard calls on who is in/out; further very much support Councillor Darlings comments. Pickle ball court – for 100K for starters is pandering to the senior demographic. How about they raise ALL of the money and make it work over time. Sustainability officer – another pandering to the eco crowd. I don’t know how this hits the table without a full on position profile. Office of the CAO – seems the Mayor is wanting an expansion of his carpet. Again no position profile and certainly no discussion of the cross over responsibilities between the current Admin Asst and new proposed version. In short I really don’t believe that this council is serious about arriving at a budget that represents the current fiscal reality of the Town and or its constituents. Further I don’t know how these ‘wants’ even get the light of day. There are ‘needs’ enough to handle.

Reply to  Gerinator
12 February 2023 9:04 am

Could we not just have a mayor and counsel of Northumberland😏 imagine the savings.

8 February 2023 3:17 pm

[Edited from original which had way too many links – only one is allowed]
[Councillor emails are available here:]
Email all of them and express your concern about the proposed wage increase. My suggestion is a deferred increase to be effective for future Council members beginning the next election.

Reply to  Rob
8 February 2023 5:42 pm


If you look back on the timing of Council compensation increases you will find that increases proposed in the year before an election are not approved. The reason appears to be fear of voter backlash. The increases that are approved happen in the first year on a Council’s term.

Your suggestion isn’t consistent with what actually happens.

Reply to  Bryan
8 February 2023 5:54 pm

While you state your views are yours alone and not the Cobourg Taxpayers Association’s given two of the four officers of the CTA are pushing hard for significant unnecessary and unwarranted remuneration increases (which are not in favour of taxpayers or the best interest of Cobourg) I personally find it hard to believe that this is not the Cobourg Taxpayers Association’s position.

It just doesn’t fit. I for one have lost confidence in the CTA.

Reply to  Rationale
9 February 2023 3:59 pm

Maybe they are setting themselves up nicely to run in the next election?

SW Buyer
Reply to  Rationale
9 February 2023 4:31 pm


You wrote”…  for significant unnecessary and unwarranted remuneration increases (which are not in favour of taxpayers or the best interest of Cobourg)”

I’m curious. How have you determined this?
What are your metrics for:
“not in favour of taxpayers” and
“best interests of Cobourg”

Perhaps this is just your unsubstantiated speculative opinion.
That’s ok but you should state that it is instead of making it appear that these are facts.

Regarding the CTA, why do you find it unusual that some members of the organization share similar opinions? As for being the CTA’s position, you indicate this is pure speculation on your part.

Thank you for sharing your opinions.

Bill Arthur
8 February 2023 1:14 pm

the Cobourg Lawn Bowling grant is an in kind grant for parking permits on Church Street during bowling events. It is for 40 passes. Not having those passes would have a huge impact on the club. Nobody from out of town is going to pay for parking all day to play in a tournament when they can go to other clubs and park free. And it is bound to have an impact on membership. The club would become, I believe, the only sports club in town that does not have free parking. It will slowly cease to function if this goes ahead Messrs Cleveland and Darling. A grant of $1000 is almost worthless. What’s that worth? Maybe 5 passes for a club of 140 members!

Reply to  Bill Arthur
8 February 2023 4:16 pm

In a way it can be argued that Cobourg gives 1M$+ grant to CCC, in that every year the Town has to pay that deficit. I support Bill A position.

Reply to  Gerinator
8 February 2023 8:23 pm

If you walked past the lawn bowling club on a week day once the $5/hr parking rate started just about the only ones parked there are people at the club. That takes away no revenue from the town as the spots would be vacant otherwise.

Reply to  Bill Arthur
8 February 2023 9:34 pm

Maybe the town council wants the lawn bowling club to cease to function like the pool.

8 February 2023 12:36 pm

Based on paragraph 1 right now the draft budget/proposals sit at an 8.5% to Taxpayers for 2023. (3% + 5.5%). This increase (or whatever it ends up to be) does provide for the increase to Taxpayers for the impact of Bill 23 which passes Development Charges onto Ontario Municipalities and in-turn the Taxpayer. Municipalities that has started to review the impact of Bill 23 suggest it will add potentially a 5% to 10% to the Taxpayer.

Giving the uncertainty right now in the economy, coupled with the significant annual increase to Taxpayers I do not see how the Mayor and Councillors can support some of the “Highlights” above i.e. their remuneration increases, new hires for Executive Assistant and Sustainability Officer, New Web Design.

Their approach 3 months into a four year term seems to me to be a Fast Track Course on how to lose Voter Confidence.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rational
8 February 2023 8:54 pm

…sit at an 8.5% to Taxpayers for 2023. (3% + 5.5%).

Rational, you forgot the stormwater management fee!
5.5% + 3% + 6% is 14.5%.

8 February 2023 11:55 am

I’m good with some sort of increase but it should be over the course of the next 4 years with no increase this year. I also believe it should be weighted more heavily for second term members.

mrs bigley
8 February 2023 11:17 am

l think its a travesty for the council to want an increase in wages at this particular time when so many are having difficulty with the increasing costs of not only fuel but food – shame shame shame

Jack Dawkins
8 February 2023 10:20 am

I find it hard to accept that a new Mayor would suggest he would like a 43% increase in compensation. Maybe he should govern first with the compensation he knew about when he ran for the position. Increasing Council Compensation should not be on the table. This does not feel or look like fiscal responsibility or even common sense.

8 February 2023 9:30 am

Sustainability officer?? Is this position being introduce to see how long Cobourg residents can sustain an ever increasing tax burden (tongue in cheek of course)… This isn’t the time to introduce something so completely useless. Same goes for the additional Executive Assistant (which clearly Lucas wants for himself), Council compensation increases….hold all new spending. Just read a newspaper and tell me if now is a good time to increase spending?

Save the Pool and scratch Pickleball for one year…

8 February 2023 9:14 am

It appears that numerous commenters want a council made up of volunteers who will work for free to eliminate all taxes!

Reply to  Cobourger
8 February 2023 9:28 am

Coburger – I certainly don’t feel that way. The people that ran for election and the longer serving sought the position due to interest in Town issues, citizens and governance. Feeling the position was important to them and pleased to do it for the compensation offered recognizing they would be serving in a smaller town with less largese in its coffers.

This suggestion, as in most cases when you accept a position anywhere you sign in agreement to the compensation offered which is increased by cost of living increases. The ink is dry.

Bryan’s suggested increase should be deferred to the last months of this term for Council consideration. The new term, should it be passed if feasible in a town of Cobourg’s revenues, would then be thrown out to the public arena at the new rate to see what the net brings in. Hopefully in the next election Council would also be seasoned in the re-election of past members based on voter satisfaction. There are those I would be interested in re-electing.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Reply to  Dave
8 February 2023 11:39 am

I agree with you, Dave. Any job that I applied for, posted the position and salary expected. I can’t imagine asking for an increase in my salary just when I accepted the position….crazy!

Reply to  Liz
8 February 2023 6:07 pm

Thank you Liz for supporting the position I proposed above with regard to signing of employment agreements. It is always nice to know another thinks the position I presented is a good idea.

Reply to  Dave
8 February 2023 4:26 pm

Dave, agree – sort of. I maintain that compensation presented is/was sufficient to attract these folks. I also maintain that there should be zero increase until we see quality, performance from this group of newbees. Yes I include the 4 past councilors BECAUSE I don’t in the slightest believe that they performed well over the prior 4 years; further they are working within this new grouping, with new leader. So less talk of increases in compensation and more talk about how they are going to deal with these inflationary and Provincially driven cost pressures on this Towns budget.

Reply to  Cobourger
8 February 2023 11:51 am

It is insane to think a mayor comes in with no experience and asks for this increase. Not surprising as it makes you think why a young family man who claims to have run multi million dollar companies and complained that he could not afford rent took a job knowing full well the pay. Let’s wait four years and see if he is worth the pay increase. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Reply to  Dam_213
12 February 2023 9:35 am

I saw red flags 🚩 🚩 when I heard him say that also!!

Reply to  Dam_213
12 February 2023 10:23 am


The Mayor of Port Hope is also a rookie and has no business experience. She gets $68,800.

8 February 2023 8:42 am

Seems to be a lot of want, want, want but where is the how, how, how?

Cobourg Taxpayer
7 February 2023 9:55 pm

Ok this is truly mind boggling Lucas was all for lowering taxes but now wants an additional executive assistant, higher councillor salaries and a redeveloped website. WHO is paying for this? Mister flip flop, omg. CTA you proposed this and now it may go through I thought you were all about fiscal responsibility you have completely lost my support.

Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
7 February 2023 11:57 pm


The CTA did not propose any of this. As a Cobourg resident, I proposed that Council members should be paid fairly for the work they do. Further, I suggested several savings offsets that more than compensate for the compensation increase. How is this not fiscally responsible?

Good governance is not free, you have to pay for it. Cobourg staff are paid fairly (some might say well). Why shouldn’t council members be paid fairly. In the private sector, the same work would garner pay considerably more than the minimum wage councilors currently get. Why should the Town pay less than the private sector?

When did Mayor Cleveland say he was for lowering taxes? I don’t recall him making any campaign promises other than to work hard and listen to the residents.

As for budget additions, I think that those that propose additions should also have to provide the offsetting funding. This could be from grants or expense reductions for example.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
8 February 2023 5:13 am

Bryan – I suppose Lucas Cleveland in the end declared he had run on no platform other than enthusiasm. During the campaign he had let it be known he had a back ground in stream lining a business for most productive use of operating dollars.

Then again in the last election no one stepped forward to run for mayor so the person selected stepped into the position from that of Deputy Mayor. This election we had only 2 candidates. One of whom stated he had no political experience in any arena and hoped the staff whom he is charged with overseeing would train him. Perhaps it is time for an increase in remumeration to attract a good candidate for the top position in particular.

I guess the time has passed when municipal and civil service jobs paid at a mediocre level due to job security, promised pension and the idea of civic duty. I must say the job I held in the former Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto before my voluntary return to the trucking industry was the best paid – head and shoulders above in fact in pay and benefits than any private industry job I could have had for the truck driving work I was performing just as the rest in their wide variety of duties over private industry.

Reply to  Dave
8 February 2023 5:44 am

In addition Bryan the truck driving job I did for the Municipality was a walk in the park compared to the degree of skill and hours in the trucking industry yet the pay the municipality paid far outstripped any it.

Under your logic then why should tax payer funded jobs pay so much more than the private industry jobs for the same if not lower level of skill required? My brother-in-law is close to retirement in fact in a municipal position. Should he have taken a cash pay out on his pension he was eligible for a payment of $150,000 flat out or he could take the indexed pension paid monthly for life. Rather rich for a guy with grade 12 – although as my relative I say good for him. Few jobs requiring that level of skill offer such benefit along with the 6 weeks of vacation, a renewing sick play of 26 weeks per year, 100% dental, life insurance and medical expense reimbursement coupled with a set 40 hour week.

I see also the CRA is planning on striking as well, the teachers’ and all the rest. Time to look at the situation indeed or get richer tax payers.

Reply to  Dave
8 February 2023 8:16 am


Municipal staff workers pay is not controlled by the property taxpayers. It is controlled by the market and the negotiating skills of the unions and management.

Council members pay is a function of the “towns” size, tradition council members courage and how well they “sell” the increase.

Reply to  Bryan
8 February 2023 8:54 am

I thought Bryan you said you were referring to public sector wages vs private sector wages. We all know about the union bargaining process in government. Council in turn as well as management then reward themselves based on at least the point the union received as well as more premium benefits. As far as selling it it is what it is – accept it or not it is decided on.

New to Cobourg
Reply to  Dave
8 February 2023 1:29 pm

The Mayor is only one vote. It seems to me that Council, the Deputy Mayor and the Mayor are attempting to do the best with what they have. Every cut to the budget is met with protest. Every addition to the budget is met with protest. We are all facing increases in food costs, hydro, gas etc. Let’s give them a chance. We elected them.

Reply to  New to Cobourg
8 February 2023 1:55 pm

Pardon??? See Comment to Cobourger.

Reply to  Bryan
8 February 2023 7:38 am

The problem with the good suggestions made to improve the compensation for Council is that “the proof of the pudding” will not be seen for another four years.

We are stuck with the people that got themselves elected in the last election. We can only hope that improved pay will work next time.

Good suggestions – four years too soon!

Reply to  ben
8 February 2023 8:07 am


Attempts to raise the compensation done in the last year of the term fail because Council members are afraid they will offend the voters. Sometimes it works, like in Port Hope. But then Sanderson knew he wasn’t running again

Reply to  Bryan
8 February 2023 4:15 pm

“Good governance is not free, you have to pay for it. Cobourg staff are paid fairly (some might say well). Why shouldn’t council members be paid fairly. In the private sector, the same work would garner pay considerably more than the minimum wage councilors currently get. Why should the Town pay less than the private sector?”……

Town Staff are Full Time. Town Council are not Full Time. If all Council members worked 8-10 hr days then it would be impossible for them to run their separate business like some do, or go skiing during the day like some do….

Having said that, I do agree they deserve more BUT not in their first year of serving.

If you’re going to compare Town Council to Private Industry then do like they do in the Private Sector and have a 3 or 4 Tier Pay Scale. First year, you start at the bottom of that scale and work your way up.

My 2 cents.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kathleen
Reply to  Kathleen
10 February 2023 8:43 am

Yes, Kathleen, it does appear that Councillors are being paid slightly below minimum wage.

Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
8 February 2023 8:42 am

Exactly 💯 Bryan needs to give it up as he has got taxpayers ticked off and now it will no doubt go through.. as the new Mayor seems to like the idea.
That raise amount, or any is seen as a power grab. I would certainly hope the few council members that have been sitting before will vote this down. If not , is there such a thing as municipal nonconfidence vote ? If not we are all in a world of hurt for the next 4 yrs

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Jade
8 February 2023 9:07 am

Jade, there will be a world of hurt with or without a wage increase for Council. Have you looked at your latest bill for natural gas?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 February 2023 4:09 pm

You seem to always be the voice for fiscal responsibility. What’s changed?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
8 February 2023 4:35 pm

Nothing, informed.

By most estimates being a good Councillor (some are not so good!) is a fulltime job. Do you honestly think that it is reasonable to pay them less than a Walmart greeter? Should their pay be 1/3 that of a fireperson? About half the median income in Northumberland? Would you work for that pay?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 February 2023 7:13 pm

I wouldn’t work for that pay but they pretty much said they would when they ran and were elected. I wouldn’t personally expect a pay increase like this one after 4 months either. Who would?

Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
8 February 2023 11:40 am

Lost my support too!