First 2020 Budget Session

Cobourg’s budget setting starts with each department providing a requested budget (wish list?) and six of them provided these on Thursday 21 November.  It would be probably unrealistic to expect that they would all initially come in at the targeted 1.9% increase and in that respect there were no surprises.  Budget chief Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin chaired the meeting and commented that the average was 10-12%.  In mid September, Citizens were given a chance to provide input on the budget but there was no noticeable impact of these (see link below).  The Departments (or Divisions) submitting at this meeting were: Cobourg Library; Art Gallery of Northumberland;  Planning and Development; General Government Services; Economic Development and Venture 13.  The others will have their turn on November 26 and 28.  An initial Draft budget is scheduled for release on December 13 with a final review on January 9 and approval on Feb 3.


Public Library

  • So far the Provincial Government has reduced subsidies by $50K/year and another $30K/year is expected
  • The Library also serves Hamilton Township but the budget request was for the Cobourg allocation
  • Library CEO Tammy Robinson said that an MOU needs to be written to define who is responsible for what.
  • The amount requested from Cobourg was $899.7K, an increase of 3.2% – Suzanne said that this needs to be 1.9%

Art Gallery of Northumberland (AGN)

  • The total budget planned for 2020 is $395K with $250K coming from the Town  – that’s an increase of 22% from the 2019 budget of $205K.
  • The town gets back $45K in rent and also gets paid $9K for security
  • The AGN wants to increase the hours of operation to include one evening
  • Suzanne suggested that the request should be closer to $160K.  Perhaps she forgot the decision made in March 2019 that the amount for 2020 should be $250K.

Planning and Residential

This Division was previously called Planning and Development – it includes Planning, Heritage and Committee of Adjustment.

  • Director Glenn McGlashon is requesting an additional planner.  Current staff consists of Glenn, Rob Franklin, Desta McAdam, Dave Johnson and Adriane Miller but work load is heavy.
  • Revenue is expected to increase to $120K from the 2019 budget of $85K
  • The net budget requested was $528.5K for an increase of $72K or 15.9%. 
  • The increase is due to the new person and the $40K for the Heritage Conservation Study at $40K.  Without these, there would be a 3.6% decrease.
  • The ongoing project to develop a Downtown CIP is funded with $75K from Holdco but Suzanne suggested that perhaps that could be put on hold for 2020 and the money instead allocated to the Affordable Housing CIP.  Discussion revealed that this CIP would be expanded to include “sustainability, brownfield and accessibility”.

General Government

Ian Davey
Ian Davey

This consists of seven departments:  Information Technology, Human Resources, Finance, Clerks Department, Communications, Council and Victoria Hall.  Acting CAO and Treasurer Ian Davey presented most of these budgets.

  • Council – 1.2% lower at $369K but Salary increases were not added since they were to be subject to budget approval.
  • Admin CAO – 1.8% increase to $254K
  • Communications – 27% increase to $266K – this is mostly due to a new person for a full year versus 6 months in 2019
  • Clerks Dept – expenses 5.6% increase to $490K; revenue increase 1% to $179.5K
  • Finance (Admin) – 6.5% increase to $704K
  • Information Technology – 7.2% increase to $342K
  • Victoria Hall – 6% increase to $727K
  • Financial (Other) – 22% decrease to $112K
  • Human Resources (Personnel) – 42% increase to $543K – mostly due to a Special Project: Non-Union Job Evaluation/Pay Equity Plan at $175K.  Without that, it would have a 3.7% decrease.
  • Health and Safety – flat at $12,850
  • An estimate of the overall requested increase for General Government is a 9.5% increase for a total in 2020 of $3.64M

Economic Development

  • The replacement of Economic Development Officer (Wendy Gibson) has not yet been resolved but the budget request assumes the position will be filled.
  • An increase of 36% is requested for a total of $313K

Venture 13

  • An increase of 13% to a total of $223K

Some departments also made Capital requests – see the full agenda package in the link below.

Next sessions

Nov 26

  • Public Works
  • Environmental Services
  • Protection Services – Fire Department

Nov 28

  • Community Services
  • Protection Services –  Police Services


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terry marrocco
4 years ago

Re budget process, wondering how the town of Cobourg can do new goal setting, carrying out our official plans, eg urban forest plan, if we don’t start following the money ,and beginning with these goals? Wondering what 1.9 % across the board has to do with the goal setting process?

How do we take into account our public library has had drastic cuts due to shortfall from the provincial government? Don’t we start by costing out how much the library really needs with this shortfall to determine how much they receive?

Cobourg taxpayer
4 years ago

Department requests for budget increases of 10-12% are not sustainable based on town population growth and corresponding property tax collection. Town staff have no regard for the spending of taxpayers money with requests like this. Please deputy mayor Seguin enforce the 1.9% increase that all departments are disregarding.

4 years ago

Am I reading this right? We pay over $1,000.00 per day, 7 days a week for the AGN?

Canuck Patriot
4 years ago

When did the AGN become a Town Department? Furthermore, why is the AGN grant treated differently than other community grants and why is it not subject to the requirements of the Community Grant Policy?
In 2017, the Town’s contribution was $75,000. In 2018 it more than doubled to $160,000 and last year to $205,000.

According to a January – May 2019 Financial Report provided by the AGN to Council (it had agreed to provide quarterly reports as a condition of increased funding), the Gallery received no federal, provincial and other grants in the first five months vs. $52,000 budgeted for the year, no sponsorship money and had collected only $2,890 in membership fees, $4,290 in donations and $2,281 in fundraising. The Gallery’s proposal for Town funding of $250,000 in 2020 provides no indication of what 2019 forecast revenues are for federal, provincial and other grants, sponsorships, etc.

This is critical information the Gallery should have provided so Council can assess whether the 2020 budget proposed for non-Town revenue is realistic or fiction.

Two things are clear. First, there has been no tangible evidence that the AGN has achieved any material success in reducing its reliance on Town grants. Second, it continues to be a taxpayer money pit.

If the AGN is unable to develop a business plan that will transform it into a fiscally viable enterprise with a material decreasing reliance on government funding, perhaps it’s time for a brutally honest discussion about what it’s future should be. If its members and visitors are not prepared to support the AGN, why should Cobourg taxpayers?

Walter Luedtke
4 years ago

Of course, there are alternatives to tax-payer funding of the arts and culture.
In Port Hope, the nuclear industry underwrites the Cameco Capitol Arts Centre.
Perhaps we could lure some branch of the fossil fuel industry back to Cobourg.
After all, we had a tank farm and coal sheds next to the harbour at one time.
Then we could have an ESSO C. Gordon King Centre and get the tax-payer off the hook.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter Luedtke
4 years ago

Forget the socialist nightmares peddled by cranks. If anyone had half an imagination they’d know that there are many alternatives to funding the arts than by coal shed and tank farms. Self-investing. Partner investing. Crowd funding.

During the 1980’s I spent a month in the Socialist Republic of Poland. In the city of Lodz I was provided with an apartment by an artist collective called the Lodz-Kaliska Group. ( )

The socialist govt funded the arts, but kept a tight control of its content, typical of socialists. (One thing socialists do not promote — Free expression) Many artists created mediocrity for the socialist state so that they could survive. The Catholic Church provided a wonderful alternative and opened their church basements for visual artists. I visited many of these places taking pictures of very edgy and provocative art that would otherwise have been banned by the socialists. The Lodz-Kaliska group was as freely independent as they could be under the regime of a socialist government. They financed their art themselves, and by friends and other supporters. They were subversively creative..

They produced an annual arts journal called TANGO. They produced 300 copies each time. Each artist who wanted to contribute to this zine, had to produce 300 copies of their own work and deliver it to a particular location where it was joined with other artists and collated and distributed, surreptitiously of course, because the socialists forbid such free independence by artists. I taught them how to smuggle copies out to the West. They produced some of the most creative Polish art during the Cold War and they did it without socialist handouts. And, yes, the socialist authorities harassed them severely for their independence. Socialists like their artists and poets to be dependent, like infants.

Socialism produces gobs and gobs of mediocrity, whereas freedom, with all of its turbulence, inspires creativity. Freedom is the fire I always wanted to play with.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter Luedtke
4 years ago

“In Port Hope, the nuclear industry underwrites the Cameco Capitol Arts Centre.”

A typical socialist holds such participation by the nuclear industry in contempt, and much prefers that tax-payers pay for everything. Cobourg Now just published a wonderfully informative article about Cameco and the wonderfulness of the nuclear industry.

“We’re not only powering Ontario with thirty per cent of its energy and 30% less than the average residential cost, day in and day out; we’re also saving people’s lives,” said Mike Rencheck, CEO of Bruce Power. “We make cobalt 60, which is used to sterilize about 40% of the once-use medical equipment around the world.”

“We’re looking at advancing our isotope platform. We’ve moved into brain tumour treatments using the same components that you make. And now we’re starting to look at advancing into prostate cancer treatments.”

Deep decarbonization is believed to be less than 50 grams per kilowatt hour. Well, Germany sits at about 500 grams per kilowatt-hour, California sits at about 245 grams per kilowatt-hour. And here in Ontario, you’re about 45 grams per kilowatt-hour.”

The community thanks Cameco for their financial support of many social projects. Socialists are ingrates.

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  Wally Keeler
4 years ago

Talking specifically about Cameco and taxes, rather than Bruce Nuclear, the Canada Revenue Agency has been in an ongoing dispute with Cameco over taxes and penalties that could amount to $2.2 billion.
Cameco mines uranium is Saskatchewan, but pays minimal taxes on its profits in Switzerland.
The Canton Zug thinks this is wonderful too, Canadian Citizens For Tax Fairness not so much.
Still one has to be grateful that some crumbs fall off the table for the Capitol in Port Hope.
To be fair here, Canadian corporations are doing the very same thing. In fact, both Loblaws Cos. Ltd. and the silver mining company Silver Wheaton Corp. are being pursued by the Canada Revenue Agency for avoiding taxes by using offshore havens, potentially owing hundreds of millions in back taxes (both companies deny the allegations).

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter Luedtke
4 years ago

Talk to us when you have something more substantial than mere allegations and spewing socialist dogma drenched in mediocrities. Regardless of the machinations of this or that corp/company in this or that country for this or that alleged failure to pay their so-called fair share. This tiresome socialist rant always lacks any creativity or creative ways to support the arts other than through the socialist culvert of conformity. Socialists hate freedom and creativity because they more often take actions to suppress it rather than nourish it.

I recommend reading the Velvet Prison written by Miklos Haraszti, a Hungarian dissident who was assaulted by socialists for being an independent poet. Many of Haraszti’s books since then compile other dissident authors. artists/poets who have experienced socialism in reality, not the cushy life of a bourgousie in small town Ontario drenched in an ideological theory. Socialism is antithetical to creativity. Socialism constantly cries: MAKE THE TAXPAYERS PAY! Always and without fail. Socialists love government. They especially love government control.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
4 years ago

You two make for boring reading about a boring subject.

4 years ago

No revenue shown for Venture 13? I thought they rented out desks,space, communications, etc.?

Suzanne Seguin
Reply to  Frenchy
4 years ago

Hello Frenchy, Venture 13 YTD 2019 is showing $128,101 in revenue. This consists of $56,250 in Anchor Tenant rent, $26,807 in Transient Tenant rent, $43,784 in Grants and $1,260 Events revenue. 2020 Dept. revenue estimate is $127,500.

4 years ago

Looks to me that this little town is “Out of Control” when it comes to staff spending plans. Our mayor has to become a stronger leader.

Reply to  cornbread
4 years ago

What price culture?? The AGN proposed budget is off the map! Better look close at Venture 13 as well.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
4 years ago

In Port Hope there is a wonderful collective of artists that gather under the umbrella of Critical Mass. They provide art experiences in the public domain that gather a lot of curious residents and participants. For example, most recently, they sponsored (not the Town) the Pumpkin Parade, whereby all the citizens of Port Hope were invited to bring their carved pumpkins to Lent Lane for a collective viewing the day after Halloween. It was a delightful display of creativity. How much did it cost the Town? Negligble compared to the $$$ requested by the AGN that sequesters the art in a big room on the third floor. What plans does the AGN have to engage citizens with art in the public domain? The Board of the AGN needs to seriously rethink its exhibition strategies towards the public, that there is more to art than objects in a room. Has the AGN got the connections to inspire a group of artists to enter a float in the Canada Day parade? Just an example of thinking outside the box, or outside the gallery confines into the Cobourg common.