As Cobourg resident Ken Strauss pointed out in his critical “Letter to the Editor”, at the Committee of the Whole Council COW) Meeting on November 16, Fire Chief Mike Vilneff asked for budget pre-approval of $240K for renovations to Cobourg’s Firehall. He said that this was required because these renovations were needed to accommodate a female firefighter who had been hired earlier in the year. Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin said that early approval was not needed since regular budget sessions were imminent. When asked, the chief was not able to provide a detailed breakdown as to what exactly was needed to accommodate the female firefighter versus other included items. So after considerable discussion, the original motion to approve the full… Read complete articleFire Hall Renovations to Accommodate Female Firefighter
Cobourg Council has released a schedule of seven meetings where the budget is developed and the public is invited – albeit virtual (see link below) – and the first one was held at 5:00 pm today. In introducing the meeting, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin said that it would help Council decide on “Areas of Focus” – but she did say that this year the target would be a 1 to 2% increase. Suzanne then discussed the meeting schedule and this prompted Councillor Nicol Beatty to ask about how well the second meeting about Community Grants had been publicized. She pointed out that the web site still had year old information. Brent Larmer took responsibility for the oversight but said that… Read complete articleFirst Council meeting re 2021 Budget
In late 2019, the Town launched a plan to make it possible to subsidize affordable Housing in Cobourg. A seemingly straight forward task, a consultant was hired to report by May 2020 but due to delays caused by Covid-19, the report will finally be approved at Monday’s Council meeting. Affordable housing in this case means affordable rental housing which is generally in short supply in Cobourg, affordable or otherwise. My understanding is that the Plan is required to make it legal for the Town to use Taxpayers money for this purpose. This initiative is being done by the Town despite the fact that the County has responsibility for social services including affordable housing although the plan does talk about working… Read complete articleCommunity Improvement Plan up for Final Approval
With concerns about Covid-19 on everyone’s mind, Council briefly debated on Monday whether to open the Outdoor Rink in Rotary Park this winter. They were presented with three options ranging from closing it to fully opening including the Transit shelter. Instead they chose the middle option: “authorize municipal staff to open the outdoor rink as soon as weather permits, that signs be posted for social distancing rules and that the transit shelter remain closed for the 2020-2021 season;” With the Transit Shelter closed, there was concern about washroom facilities and places to put on skates. This concern would be resolved with porta-potties and six benches placed around the rink with social distancing. Porta-potties would require electricity to power warming cables… Read complete articleCouncil Agrees to Open Outdoor Rink
In March of this year, the Province provided $86K to fund a review of delivery of services which would hopefully find ways to reduce costs and therefore Municipal taxes. Given the short time frame, Council agreed to sole source this to KPMG. Part of the project was a survey of the public and on 28 August, KPMG reported on what 307 participants thought – see link below. Then on 26 October, Oscar Poloni reported his initial findings. In the end, taxpayers will want to know “can taxes be reduced?” or given the pandemic, “what services can be reduced or modified to keep taxes under control?” The KPMG report is detailed and in its 119 pages contains a lot of useful… Read complete articleService Levels Review – Final Report
Cobourg Town Staff will recommend at the next Committee of the Whole Council meeting that a working group be established to coordinate the Town’s response to citizen concerns about road safety. The memo was written by Director of Public Works Laurie Wills and says that there is a need to “streamline a response to road safety concerns as currently there is confusion as to where or to whom these complaints should be directed and there is risk that concerns get over looked or decisions are made without consulting with all of the affected departments.” She says that “Municipal Councillors, Public Works and the Police Service frequently receive concerns, questions and suggestions from members of the community in relation to technical… Read complete articleRoad Safety Response Team Recommended
Cobourg Council is still struggling to keep up with unfinished business – on September 20th I reported on 16 items on the list with half of them running late. In particular, in February 2020, the Library Board asked for an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to define “who does what” with a due date of 20 June 2020. At the Council meeting on November 2, the board sent a memo to Council that asked, in essence, “What happened? This is now urgent!” Their memo gave an example of the failure of an HVAC unit and Town staff were not very helpful in dealing with it – they basically suggested that they should look after it themselves (with a contractor) despite having… Read complete articleUnfinished Business – November 2020
Oscar Poloni of consultant KPMG presented to Council tonight the first report of results for the “Municipal Service Delivery Review”. The review was initiated to “to improve the understanding of the services currently provided by the Town and provide better information that will allow the community, Council and staff to make informed strategic choices regarding those services.” That is, it attempts to answer the question “Can the Town be more efficient and/or reduce costs to Cobourg’s taxpayers?” Initial results suggest that the only real way to do this is by reducing services and asks Council for direction about possibly reducing recreation and tourism and possibly other services. But along the way, a survey with 307 respondents found out what residents… Read complete articleCan the Cost of Cobourg’s Services be reduced?