It’s a pity more people don’t provide their opinion on the Town’s budget. On Monday, 23 January, the results of the online budget survey will be presented at a public Council meeting. From 15 December to 4 January 2023, only 70 citizens bothered to air their thoughts on the budget. (For comparison, 6,757 voted in the last election.) At the same meeting, other inputs will be accepted: 1) Written and Oral budget submissions and 2) requests for community grants. The agenda lists only one written submission – from Hope Bergeron once again asking that Transit revert to scheduled service – my report on 24 January will provide what Oral submissions were made. The report on the Survey and Hope’s letter are available in Resources below.
Budget Survey Summary
Few survey results showed strong preferences one way or the other although some were interesting. More interesting were the comments that staff chose to present – since the comments were not consistently arguing single items, they don’t fit in a summary. I recommend that you read them yourself (available in “Budget survey results” in Resources) and I presume Councillors will also read them even though they are simply one individual’s suggestion.
Survey Question Highlights
Note that numbers shown are number of responses out of 70.
Question 1. Rank the level of importance of Town-provided Programs and Services
Responses to this question could be one of 5 levels from Very Important to Not important at all
Answers: Largest number responding Very important: Emergency Services (57)
Smallest number responding Very Important: Economic Development and Venture 13 Innovation Centre (9)
Question 2. Provide additional feedback – 6 answers provided.
Question 3: Rank your level of satisfaction with the Town’s delivery of Programs and Services:
Responses to this question could be one of 5 levels from Very Satisfied to Very Dissatisfied
Answers: Largest number responding Very Satisfied: Library Services (27).
Smallest number responding Very Satisfied: Tie: Planning, Transit, Community Grants and Services (2 each).
Largest number responding Neutral: Tie: Animal control and Community Grants and Services (47 each).
Question 4. Provide additional feedback – 9 answers provided.
Question 5: Rank the issues you believe to be the most important issues facing the Town of Cobourg at the present time (full results provided here on this question). #1 is most important issue and #10 least important.
- Safety and Crime Prevention
- Cost of Living
- Economy/Jobs/Economic issues
- Property Taxes
- Access to Housing/Accommodations
- Environmental Issues/Sustainability
- Governance and Transparency
- Quality of Transportation Infrastructure
- Community Emergency Preparedness
- Culture and Heritage Conservation
Question 6. Provide additional feedback – 17 answers provided.
Question 7: Communities across Ontario, including the Town of Cobourg face the ongoing task of replacing aging infrastructure. Would you be willing to pay an additional, dedicated tax levy if you knew that these funds would only be drawn upon for infrastructure upgrades?
Answers: Yes: 20; No: 10; Need more information: 40.
Question 8: “Are there any other key considerations you would like staff to keep in mind during the financial planning process?”
Answers: The survey report included 10 answers to this question. They did not not focus on a single issue. The survey report is available below so you can read those 10 responses there plus the answers to questions 2, 4 and 6. With only 70 survey responses, it’s hard to know if these are truly representative.
I suggest that one takeaway from the survey is that there is a wide range of opinion as to taxpayer satisfaction and what is important. My ranking of important issues would not be the same as Question 5 above.
It remains to be seen whether any of this will impact what Council decides when presented with the budget by staff over the next few days (25 and 26 January). The Town plans to once again solicit feedback (on Capital projects) once the budget is decided as a draft but before it’s approved. Final budget approval is scheduled for February 27.
- Letter from Hope Bergeron “As council goes to budget” – dated November 17, 2022.
- Budget survey results
- Council Meeting schedule