Budget Approved for 2019

After a  long meeting, Council approved the budget for 2019 with an increase in overall spending of 4%. But because of growth in the Town (more properties paying taxes), the increase in your taxes will be 2%.  So if your property had an MPAC valuation increase the same as the average for the Town, the Town’s portion of your taxes will increase by 2% from last year.  But in the process of managing the budget, Councillors made some decisions – or maybe they were more like statements – about priorities and direction.  Some issues were covered under the heading Community Grants as reported yesterday (e.g. AGN, Santa Parade) but also discussed were IT (Information Technology) planning, Accessible Transit, Affordable Housing,  Council Salaries, the Travel Lift (again!) and briefly, Advertising for Tourism, the East Pier and the Memorial Arena.

Information Technology

Mayor John Henderson; Town Clerk Brent Larmer
Mayor John Henderson; Town Clerk Brent Larmer

Mayor John Henderson said that after deferring the idea for 8 years, he was not willing to defer any longer the need for an IT Strategic Plan to set direction.  The budget for 2019 includes spending on software to provide immediate protection but there are no specific dollars for a Strategic plan.  After discussion it was decided that the $40,000 required could come from IT reserves.  The budget does include $10,000 for the “Bang the Table” software which will provide for John’s promised Mayor’s interactive web site.

Accessible Transit
Adam Bureau said that there was an immediate need for accessible transit (Wheels) to operate past the current end of service around 7:45 pm and extend it to 11:00 pm 7 days a week.  He estimated the cost at $8,000 per month although other options such as an upcoming accessible taxi (possibly subsidized) were also discussed.  John Henderson said he was working with Mayor Sanderson from Port Hope and a third party on something that would satisfy this need and asked to delay a move until May 1st.  After a long discussion, council agreed to use $8,000 a month from the Federal Gas Tax to fund an extension per Adam’s request.  This would be in place from April 1st until John’s solution is available.

Affordable Housing

Nicole Beatty and Adam Bureau
Nicole Beatty and Adam Bureau

Nicole Beatty moved that $250,000 be added to the  budget to support Affordable Housing such as proposed by Trinity and Balder (see links below). Chair Suzanne Séguin said that this addition would need to be balanced by corresponding cuts but the addition was approved.  A “Housing Support Policy” is scheduled to be presented to Council at their April 1st meeting so decisions on deployment of the funding will be taken then.  A representative of Trinity said that the $250,000 was not enough.

To help pay for this, the CIP program was cut from $150,000 to $75,000.  A proposal to delete it totally (at least for a year) was shot down because CIP helps fund downtown housing.  Other budget changes, including moving amounts to funding from sources other than tax, meant that the overall budget was not increased. (See also next item).

Other projects
Additional money was saved by deferring hiring a replacement for the Economic Development manager for several months.  In any event, this position is subject to a possible restructuring.

There was a long discussion about the need for a large budget to promote tourism.  In the end, the $120,000 budget item for Advertising and Promotions was reduced to $100,000.  Part of the Tourism budget will be spent on improving the Tourism web site which is very slow to load and “needs structural improvements”.

Because the future of the Memorial arena is being debated, the $30,000 in the Capital budget for a “brine header” will be deferred.

The annual amount in the Engineering budget for “pre-Engineering” ($37,500 for 2019) was deleted.

Council Salaries
In a presentation to Council, Paul Pagnuelo said that despite the increase in salaries for this year, they still were not enough.  When the motion for the current salaries was approved in 2018, it included a requirement that they be reviewed after 12 months.  Town Clerk Brent Larmer confirmed that he was on track to bring a report to Council at a meeting in May.

  Current Proposed
Mayor $40,440 $48,100
Deputy Mayor $27,679 $43,290
Councillors $23,128 $38,480

Harbour Projects
The proposed budget included $20,000 for engineering to define requirements for the Travel lift including the lift well.  Emily Chorley (supported by Nicole Beatty and Suzanne Séguin) wanted no money spent until there was a public meeting on the subject.  John Henderson said that we first need to know what’s happening at the East Pier.  Brian Darling said that the Engineering would help understand exactly what was proposed and would therefore be best before the Public meeting.  This position was supported by Director Dean Hustwick who pointed out that the Lift was recommended by the Waterfront Master plan, that the lift would be funded by the Marina and not taxes and that this project was integrated with other Harbour projects like the East Pier, “pedestrian walkway, beach and headland, naturalization, pathway fingers, and ecology garden pathway”.  Council decided that none of money for the proposed Engineering for these projects should be spent until after their required public meetings.

The proposed budget had amounts for engineering for 2019 and forecast amounts for 2020:

  Travel Lift East Pier Other projects
2019 – engineering $20,000 $100,000 $25,000
2020 – implementation $700,000 $900,000 $249,000
2021     $75,000

All require public meetings and now no money will be spent until after the public meetings.

A number of other less significant items were discussed but all large spending items will come before Council before they happen.


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Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

While I am gratified to see the Town dipping its toes modestly into the issue of affordable rental housing it’s disappointing to see no mention of a joint Cobourg Port Hope campaign to lean hard on the County to do its mandated job on that file. Why are so willing to let County Council abdicate its duty to provide this critically needed service? Does a waiting list of approximately 700 families who qualify for rent geared to income housing not haunt their good night’s sleep when the wind howls and the snow blows? It is, after all. their job to meet that need. We can’t stand by and let them renege on their commitment any longer.

It was 1988 when the Help Centre first encountered a family sleeping in their car and not long after there was a second one in a camping trailer. This is not a new problem and it’s past time we solved it for good.


Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Thank you very much for your work on this file.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Hmm who voted thumbs down on this post? The Council who huffed and puffed all through the election about the homeless and now have salved their consciences with a budget line item destined to sit there unless there is a plan to spend it.

The best and probably the largest non-profit housing organisation has a plan – yes it is expensive but two year’s commitment of that line item will cover it, and they are still being ignored. What’s their problem – not being socially acceptable in the “cocktail set” that appears to set public opinion??

Fund Trinity Housing and get on with the job!!

Reply to  ben
5 years ago

If you’re counting thumbs, Walter got 16 up for this post on another thread:

“Trinity Housing wants a grant of $233,826, a loan of up to $400,000 and a possible guarantee of a loan from CMHC of up to $350,000.
“The longtime seniors’ housing provider who created Trinity Place in Cobourg is not the preferred choice to develop more affordable seniors’ housing in the town, according to a staff report to Northumberland County Councillors.
This is the second time a submission or proposed project from the church-based organization has been rejected by the county housing service in the past year or so.
Trinity’s submission was not even short listed in the four proposals seeking about $3.6-million in provincially-provided funding through Northumberland County.” Northumberland News
Should Council look into the reasons why County rejected Trinity Place twice?

Reply to  Frenchy
5 years ago

I do believe this post about the report is a couple of years old get some new info and report back!!

John Draper
Reply to  ben
5 years ago

No, they asked as quoted late January 2019. My report here: https://www.cobourgblog.com/news-2019/citizen-budget-requests-part-one/

John Draper
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

There’s more on what the County is doing in a new post coming up very soon.

5 years ago

I continue to be astounded by the omissions engaged by Dir Hustwick. For instance his comment “..pointed out that the Lift was recommended by the Waterfront Master plan” is totally accurate; not mentioned is that at each and every open house discussing the Waterfront Master plan, the Travel Lift was resoundingly rejected by the majority of the attending public. Further he attempts to conceptually attach the TL with the need to address the East pier. The latter project is a capital requirement unless we intend to let the East pier disintegrate or remove it all together; the former is nothing of the kind. It is an attempt to squeeze a concept into/onto precious property for the benefit of a few. In another post of this blog I thought some out-of-box thinking included: Jim Thomas “…move to Wilmott..” and Perplexed “..joint venture with Port Hope…”. If Dir Hustwick is correct “..TL will be funded by the Marina and not taxes..” then it matters not where the TL is located as long as it is not on Cobourg precious property and I’m not alone in believing the West beach (all of it) is precious property.

Reply to  gerinator
5 years ago

Specifically, moved by Stan Frost of the Parks and Recreation Committee “THAT the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee support the Town of Cobourg Waterfront User Needs Assessment and Detailed Design Report as a framework for further planning and decision making by Council and staff. And FURTHER THAT the Committee recommend that the report be adopted by Municipal Council.”
And I don’t recall a vote being by the ‘attending public’ at the public meetings, nor a referendum by the Cobourg public at large.
Do you?

Wally Keeler
5 years ago

The news media year after year has posted negative perceptions of tourists, but no newspaper, no blog, no local pundits, have ever interviewed a tourist to Cobourg. No one has curiosity about who the tourists are. How they regard us. How myopic is that?!

Cobourg Tourism hired professionals to make 20 videos over seven years that have been published higgledy-piggledy on Youtube and Facebook. The number of views and shares they have acquired is remarkably modest. They are formulaic, contrived and mediocre.

Romantic Getaways (https://youtu.be/3tCEM00jqSo) consists of a middle age couple, (hired models) he white, she not. They disembark at the yacht docks, sniff flowers at the Farmer’s Market, stroll downtown, eat local food, walk the beach, all done to peppy music; not a single hair out of place. It is obviously contrived. Something is missing and it is authenticity, sincerity and genuine happiness.

I am showcasing videos about Cobourg beach on my blog, Cobourg of All Things. The videos were made by daytripper tourists. They are amateur, charming, authentic and sincere. They are unabashedly happy about their visit to Cobourg. ALL THIS PUBLICITY FOR FREE!

Invariably, these day tripper tourists are from assorted communities of immigrants. Their trip to Cobourg is integral to their successful integration to Canadian values. There is a gold mine of their videos uploaded to the YouTube commons. They accumulate year after year.

There should be no need to spend money producing predictable videos. Cobourg Tourism could do better to establish a side column of VISITOR VIDEOS on their web page; publishing the YouTube urls of selected videos of “Cobourg beach”. A list of visitor video urls can be found here: http://cobourgtown.blogspot.com/2017/06/cobourg-tourism-videos_20.html

5 years ago

Never let facts get in the way of public opinion!
Interesting to see Councillor Darling’s suggestion to fund an engineering study BEFORE the Public Meeting go nowhere.
After all the misinformed posts on the travel lift here – ‘let the wealthy elite pay for own toys’ – one would think that putting all the facts before the public would be the way to go.
Being ‘open, transparent, accountable and inclusive’ have been the election platforms of Seguin, Chorley and Beatty.
But not when they believe that the public already have made up their minds, it seems.

5 years ago

Thank you John for covering our budget meeting yesterday. You stayed for the entire meeting and this was very much appreciated. The final 2019 budget reflects a total tax levy of $24,060,529.00 for Operating funds and a 1.9% increase after assessment growth of 2%. The Capital budget for 2019 is $7,294,750.00. This year’s budget process was open and transparent right from the public budget meeting held on January 14, to yesterday’s deliberation meeting, all held in the public. The Open Forum was used after every section of the budget so members of the public could ask questions. As budget chief I really enjoyed the interaction and the questions with Council members and staff from the citizens of Cobourg for the almost 10-hour meeting. As you mention in your article, the priorities are different in this budget as Council members heard during the election last year. It is my hope to begin the 2020 Council Budget meetings in September of 2019.

Cobourg Person
Reply to  Suzanne
5 years ago

Budgeting creates a baseline to compare actual results to determine how the results vary from the expected performance.

Can you confirm if timely and consistent updates of budget compared to actual will be provided to the public?

Reply to  Cobourg Person
5 years ago

I will be asking for quarterly reports from Finance to measure actual results in the 2019 budget and expect that they will deliver on this so Council can see what is being spent in every department.