Council Approves 2024 Budget – Unchanged

Despite several contentious items, when all debate was finished at the regular Council meeting on 31 January, Council approved the draft 2024 budget with no changes. Mayor Cleveland had one last try at reforms and he wanted to make drastic changes to the Community Grant Process but in the end, there were few changes to the budget. The budget increased by 9.91% but because of growth in the Town’s tax base of 1.85%, the increase in the levy is 8.06%. The issue of Stormwater fees was discussed but did not affect the budget; there was more discussion on Transition House as well as a few other items – stay tuned for reports on these.  It was a marathon meeting and did not end until 11:16 pm.

Community Grants

Although Community Grants are only $37K or 0.1% of the $30.9M budget, the longest discussion was about them. Mayor Cleveland wanted to limit grants to “in-kind” and to streamline the process. His idea was to have MOU’s for organizations with repeated requests and approve them for several years at a time.  Councillors seemed to be agreed that the process needed review and (contrary to logic – see note in Resources) that it would not affect the levy if grants were paid from the Northam reserve but, after saying that the review should be postponed, they voted to approve the Mayor’s motion as follows:

THAT Council only approve $30,000 in Community Grants funding without specific grant allocations to community organizations in the 2024 Operating Budget, and

FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to bring forward a report to Council on individual memorandum of understandings (MOU) on long-term in-kind grant request recipients to eliminate the yearly grant requests from these groups to be brought back for Council approval; and

FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to bring back each community grant application and supporting materials separately who are outside of the long-term in-kind grant recipients for an individual vote on funding approval by Council for each application.

See 6:22:22 on video. I think they were confused. It does not materially affect the budget but seems to mean no-one is yet approved for a Community Grant.

Reforms Proposed by Mayor

Mayor Cleveland made two proposals:

  1. When staff are added, they typically do not start January 1 so a budget for their actual start date does not indicate the cost for a full year – e.g. the following year. With the large number of new hires in 2024, Lucas wanted the budget to be increased by 1.36% to reflect the full year. That would mean that the 2025 budget increase would be correspondingly less. Only Councillor Barber supported Lucas in a recorded vote so the motion was defeated.
  2. The Stormwater fiasco has pointed to the fact that insufficient money was spent on that infrastructure item. Lucas wants the Town to follow the example of the County (although he did not explicitly say this) and add a 1% additional levy amount to provide for future expenses on Infrastructure. The approved Capital budget for 2024 is $11,024,488 – some of this comes from reserves but a lot is borrowed and must be paid back at some point. The proposed “infrastructure levy” would go towards this. Only Councillor Barber supported Lucas in a recorded vote so the motion was defeated.

Mayor Cleveland also asked for a change in the job title of the position resulting from a merge of two positions into one (Communications Coordinator PT and Council Administrator) – he wanted to remove the communications responsibility since hiring for the joint responsibility would be too difficult. His proposal was approved – there would be no budget impact.

One of the delegations (or was it “speakers”?) was Bryan Lambert who asked some leading questions on the budget such as “where did the Transit numbers come from?” – but he got no answers.

Also discussed at the meeting were Transition House and Stormwater fees but they will be the subject of future posts. Stay tuned.

Resources

Related Posts on Cobourg Blog

Other links

Note re Northam Reserve

Profits from Cobourg’s investment in Northam are placed into a reserve account. Withdrawals are made from time to time from that account to pay for various items. If those items were not paid for by Northam Reserve, they would be paid for by the Levy. Spelling it out: if Northam money is used for Grants, that money is not available for something else. So using Northam money does not make the levy any less.

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Dave
28 days ago

Indeed Cobourg is becoming an expensive place to live. Today advertised is an apartment that was purpose built for affordable rent. Last advertised in the late summer of 2023 it was $300 a month cheaper than the advertised rent today. Utililites and parking are extra. A friend in Toronto advised thanks to MPAC evaluation despite multiple sales on their street that with a 9.5% increase their property tax will increase $22 a month. We all know that home prices in Toronto for any kind of home are valued at sale much higher than any where else. The average monthly property tax bill for 2024 in Cobourg is $345.50. a month. Seems the figures don’t add up to valuation and the increase to renters outstrips what property owners are paying in increases.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Yes and Commercial Tenants & Condo Residents here face the same or higher TMI ( Taxes , Maintenance & Insurance ) and Common costs and higher utilities with a Stormwater Tax than in larger urban areas ,
Yet their Clientele & Traffic by the front door and Drawing areas have 5 or 10 times the population drawing area , so covering the same or higher cost here is extremely difficult in small town Ontario
Cobourg

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Dave,
Several things:

MPAC valuation is based on data as at Jan 2016. The re-valuation increases (or reductions) were amortized to the properties over the following 4 years. There should have been another re-valuation in 2020, but it was delayed due to covid. The current (2024) MPAC valuation is the fully amortized 2016 valuation and it hasn’t changed in 4 years. Property sales have no effect on the MPAC valuation unless the property owner requests a re-assessment.
The 9.5% tax increase on your friend’s property has nothing to due with MPAC. Look at the changes in the municipal MIL rate.

You wrote: “The average monthly property tax bill for 2024 in Cobourg is $345.50 a month”
How did you determine this?
The 2024 Cobourg MIL rate hasn’t been set yet so Cobourg 2024 property taxes haven’t been calculated

You further wrote: “Seems the figures don’t add up to valuation and the increase to renters outstrips what property owners are paying in increases.”

What figures “don’t add up”?
What valuation?
Do you have an analysis that you care to share, showing that rent increases are more than the property owner’s cost increases?
How did you determine what the rent and cost increases are?
The 2024 provincial rent cap is 2.5%, about half of the inflation rate.

“New” (vacant) rents have likely increased more than costs. Are these the rents you are referring to?

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

Bryan – I appreciate the time you put in MPAC and taxation. Exactly where do they get the value of a home if not what it is worth on the common market and comparative homs sale in the immediate residentail area.? Even in 2016 I was drooling over what homes were fetching, a considerable increase anywhere from the sales price I achieved in 2010. Yet the average here for the year 2023 is a mere $277,200.

Here are two statements at odds –

Housing Market Report for January 2024. Current Cobourg MLS® stats indicate an average house price of $875,831

$277,200

  • An average assessed value for a home in Cobourg for 2023 is $277,200 which results in a property tax bill of $4,146 which is distributed as follows: $2,354 goes to Cobourg $1,368 goes to Northumberland County $424 goes to pay for education

tax owed 2023 $4146 / by 12 equals $345.50 – that is where I got that figure from Bryan.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Additionally Bryan the average evaluated price and attendant costs as compared the the average renter of whom fewer and fewer enjoy a 2.5% cap are faced with $300 and more rent increases on buildings built in 2018 or later. The old buildings have a dwindling stock and even they can increase the rent to any new renter at any value they feel they can get. In ten years the rents have more than doubled either it be for a newer building or vacant units in older buildings. Among the renters there is a dwindling number of enjoy a reasonable rent based on long term tenancy. Renoviction is another cause of increased rental costs forcing long term tenants to have to seek a place to live based on today’s outrageous prices. The renter additionally does not have behind him the sale price of a home for which they will receive thousands upon thousands now above the evaluated tax value to purchase another.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Finally Bryan I don’t see why home owners have their shorts in a knot when you consider the examples of what others face. Today a 1 bedroom is advertised here in Cobourg – in 2013 it was advertised for $940 today it is advertised for $2025 in that older building. A $1085 increase per month. Home owners should count their blessings and many also can add a suite and they too can charge outrageous prices for the mainly basement suites which are commonly advertised with prices at $1800 often plus utilities and much more here in Cobourg.

John Draper
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

You might find it helpful to look at this page: https://cobourginternet.com/council/municipal-taxes-in-cobourg
One sentence there would help: “…average MPAC valuation of $277,200 (it’s frozen for 2022 and 2023), …”
Since valuations are frozen, they are not realistic but still likely to show relative values.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Dave,
Thanks for the clarification.

You wrote: “Exactly where do they get the value of a home if not what it is worth on the common market and comparative homes sale in the immediate residential area? “
The following on the MPAC website may help.

https://www.mpac.ca/en/PropertyTypes/ResidentialPropertyAssessments/Howweassessresidentialproperties

Some suggest that MPAC uses secret bureaucratic rituals, a magic 8 ball and Ouija boards. Perhaps they’re right and that explains the gap between MPAC valuation and reality.

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

I agree Bryan. The formula used by MPAC should be presented to the public accompanied by the record the Witch Doctor by David Seville, 1958 whose tune I would attach if on another browser while listening to the hocus pocus explanation by MPAC.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

As far as residential homes being accessed to their real value attaching the Witch Doctor demonstrated the sense of our tax system. Perhaps I should have recommended The Sting. However is truly assessed at their real value owners would be abandoning their homes unable to meet the tax expenses although renters must suck it up.
To complain about a bus service and community taxable needs which keep this a destinaion of favour is obliveous to reality and recognition of how lucky they are especially compared to those that have had to figure out how to include $1085 to $1500 of extra housing costs regulated to them. Home Owner should be grateful not ungrateful grinnys which is expessed by some here. It is what it is.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Dave,

You wrote: “The average monthly property tax bill for 2024 in Cobourg is $345.50″
In a following comment you wrote: “tax owed 2023 $4146 / by 12 equals $345.50”

So your initial statement that the 2024 tax bill was $345.50 is in error seemingly due to a typo. 2024 should have read 2023

Thanks for the clarification

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

We all know that home prices in Toronto for any kind of home are valued at sale much higher than any where else.

Dave, why do you mention that property valuations in Toronto are higher than in Cobourg? Property owners in every town have to fund the services (and absurd wastes such as Cobourg’s buses) for their town. Local relative property valuations are the traditional way to apportion how much each of us must pay. The value of my property versus a similar Toronto or Kapuskasing or Ottawa property is completely irrelevant; what matters is the value of my property versus yours.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 days ago

Ken because if your property was in Toronto it would be most likely valued at twice what the price is here in Cobourg so perhaps it evens out despite a higher taxation cost here in Cobourg. I find it strange with a 9.5% property tax increase they are getting a mere $22 a month increase. Probably due to the weird MPAC evaluation. They have held the property 25 years and it is certainly 3 times more than what MPAC’s evaluation says despite the comparative home sale prices all around them which should tell MPAC their evaluation is off just like here.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Once again, Dave: The value of my property is irrelevant. What matters is the value of my property relative to other properties in COBOURG. Values of similar properties in Toronto do not affect my taxes.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 days ago

Ken – I shall leave it at that. You complain the taxes are too high here so I thought I would provide a comparative picture for you when you complain about the tax rate here. Toronto tax rate, values, Cobourg tax rate values. Be glad MPAC is not on the ball on evaluating your property properly using comparative sales prices as they are supposed to in your neighbourhood. You may then have had a tax increase similar to what renters experience. Count your blessings!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Dave, I have never complained about the tax rate (mill rate). My complaint is about the tax amount. Why would anyone care about the rate?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 days ago

Ken I find that statement not honest. The tax rate establishes the tax amount. The taxed object we have all agreed is priced well below its value in reality based on values figures in this case from 2016 – 8 long years ago.
If you are complaining with regard to municipal expenses which make Cobourg a good housing destination, composition of the fabric of community and services here – then that is another thing. If bare bones services are provided which seems your inclination with little or no offseting housing growth your tax rate and value of your home may continue to decrease as we have seen with the community on Lost Higway.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
28 days ago

Dave, you continue to misunderstand the fundamentals of property taxes. The sequence is:

  1. Council decides how much to spend (waste?). This amount is the levy and has absolutely nothing to do with the assessed value of any property in Cobourg..
  2. The total amount to be collected to fund the levy is divided by the assessed value of all properties. This amount is the mill rate.
  3. The value of my property multiplied by the mill rate determines how much I must pay.

Notice that whether a typical property is assessed at market value or half market value my taxes remain the same. The only thing that is relevant is the ratio of the value of my property to the value of the average property in Cobourg and the amount that Cobourg’s Council chooses to spend. The value of houses in Toronto is irrelevant!

By the way, that is why allowing the construction of lower cost “affordable” housing will increase taxes for current property owners.

Did you bother to read Mr. Draper’s excellent discussion of property taxes as he suggested?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
28 days ago

Hello Ken – This has been an enlightening conversation. Chex News announced tonight the levy for Peterborough is established at 6% which interrupts to an increase of $23 per $100,000 of assessed value. For Cobourg the average assessment would be paying a mere $63.71 annually more. The levy here is 8.06%. Tax amounts, as the 2023 average of $345.50 are not unreasonable nor is the increase.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
27 days ago

Dave,
The Cobourg levy increase is 9.91%, not 8.06% which is a smoke & mirrors number created to make residents believe that the increase is less than it really is. To determine the average tax increase, you need to know the MIL rate. That has yet to be set by Council.

Yes, the MIL rate is the total levy divided by the total MPAC assessment value. However, the weighting of the MIL rate classes can be changed by staff (Council approval).

Your estimate of a $63.71 PT increase in 2024 for the average assessment is, at this point, speculation.

Last edited 27 days ago by Bryan
Dave
Reply to  Bryan
27 days ago

It was an example based on the Peterborough rate of $23 per $100,00 house valuation, if applied here to the average rate supplied from 2023 for Cobourg what it would mean for the Cobourg taxpayer. The internet states 2024 average valuation rate for Cobourg is done mid year so yes that figure has yet to be released. A ball park figure if you will but $23 increase is peanuts. After all the “yelling” on the Blog I thought the homeowner was facing charges similar to renters of currently advertised properties. I was shocked to see how very low the average tax rate was at $345.50 plus the example of a mere $63.71 – ball park figure.

Kevin
Reply to  Dave
27 days ago

Dave, renting and owning are very different as I am sure you understand. Renters pay rent which includes property taxes. The $345.50 ‘very low average tax rate’, per month, with a possible increase of $63.71 monthly is low compared to average rent. The guideline rent increase this year is 2.5%. Property taxes are likely to increase by about 8%. The cost of rent includes property taxes, owner’s insurance, often some utilities, yard work, maintenance, and profit for the landlord. Home owners have to pay all these things in addition to property taxes. Using your $2025 rental price the rent increase would be $52.12. How does that compare to your $63.71 property tax increase? And why does it matter?

Ken, Bryan, many others, including me, would like town staff to work efficiently to provide services in a cost effective way. We will disagree on which services should be provided but not that waste should be kept to a minimum. I don’t like the town, seemingly randomly, building sidewalks on existing streets, others don’t like having a town bus at a high cost to tax payers, which includes renters. Home owners have often worked hard, managed their money responsibly and purchased homes. Renters have made different decisions. Regardless, having town staff taking more property taxes than needed is insulting. The expression “biting the hand that feeds you” comes to mind. Property taxes pay town employees who sometimes waste our resources.

Dave
Reply to  Kevin
27 days ago

Kevin – most newly advertised apartments the landlord can charge whatever they want for them. As a landlord I am sure you are aware that rents have gone from the average charged rent of $900 in 2013 to over $2000 for the same units now. In that time what is the monthly increase to the average priced tax levy to a home owner from 2013 to today? My friend was payng then as an average priced home owner $250. a month – today $345.50 a month. Combined with home insurance and utilities their overall bill was considerably under a $1000 a month today. Yard work minimal, small lot and no sidewalk – Depends on what you own. But as a former homeowner I agree there is often more work as well as more pleasure plus you have a cache in the snow so to speak in the re-sale value of your home.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
27 days ago

Dave, you appear to be ignoring the largest expense in owning a rental property: the cost of financing. In mid-2013 the prime rate was 2.87%. Today it is 7.20%. That means that the carrying costs today are 2.5 times what they were in 2013. And maintenance costs have increased. And utility costs have increased. And insurance costs have increased. And property tax costs have increased. And…

Rent going from $900 to $2000 (only a 2.2 fold increase) is a bargain. You should be paying more!

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 days ago

We have to disagree – my friend’s home went from 250 to 345, her utilities remained at a very reasonable rate as did their home insurance all added to 745 a month.
Should one borrow $50,000 to renovate and take advantage of the grant offered by the Town for such with a rental fee of $2000 a month plus utilities you would have the entire loan repaid in a 2 year period. $100,000 in 4.
I am always reading of complaints from home owners who do gross about the CCC, bus services, the pier repairs, expansion of the Golden Plough yet they state the like the community of Cobourg but wish to take away as much as possible from it. Their costs are reasonable in comparison to anywhere else in home valuation and revelant taxes. Some even say they don’t want any growth. Growth as demonstrated above is a factor which lowers the levy as it is spread out among increased properties.
Growth has come and will continue even for those here that can’t face change and with growth is greater need for services.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
27 days ago

Dave, you ignore the original cost of the rental property. Most landlords borrow 90% or more of the cost of construction. If one assumes that the rental space costs $400K for land + construction and she borrows 90%, the monthly interest on property would be $861/month at 2.87% and $2,160 at the current 7.20%. Without even considering the ever increasing costs for maintenance, taxes, insurance, etc the landlord is losing money if she only charges $2,000 per month.

Perhaps you can answer why you consider growth desirable for current residents. As you mention there will be increased demands for services hence higher taxes. Perhaps worse, if the new housing is valued at less than the current average in Cobourg we’ll have higher taxes from that cause alone.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 days ago

Hi Ken – You mean you actually believe a new build would be valued at less than $277,500?
Ken – I did not say I desired growth, I face reality, growth is here.
There are many buildings here Ken that date build dates of 1957 and earlier. Purchased many moons ago and have not changed hands yet the rents in those buildings do not reflect that.
And as pointed out renters pay property taxes through passed on costs in rent – thankfully this year there was a reduction of.74% to the 2.5 figure thanks to reduced property taxes. However i guess you are saying people that rent and are most common public service users are 2nd class citizens and should have public services they would use.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
27 days ago

Correction “should have” to should not have public services ….

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
27 days ago

I have no idea of the expected MPAC valuation for the build of a new “affordable” place. If valued at less than the Cobourg average the rest of us will pay more taxes

Why do you think that whether a building has changed ownership is relevant to an appropriate rental price?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 days ago

Why Ken you were the one outlining all the carrying expenses a newly purchased residental rental property would cost and how it would have to reflect in the rent. I was merely pointing out some have been fully owned for years with no mortgage or resulting carrying charges. Who was talking about MPAC values of affordable housing? You talked of new builds – saying what if they were valued less than the average residential home price.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
26 days ago

Dave, a competent investor continues to evaluate the best use of their capital. Consider a property that has been “fully owned for years with no mortgage or resulting carrying charges“. Should she sell and invest in another asset? Even guaranteed safe term deposits are earning almost 5% so selling her $400,000 rental property would give her $20,000 per year ($1667 per month). No repairs. No utilities. No insurance. No property tax. No SWM fee. No risk of bad tenants. Of course the tax implications of selling will influence her decision.

By definition affordable housing is less valuable than typical properties. Why do you think that it would not have a lower MPAC valuation? Some of our big box retailers have found they can successfully appeal their property valuations due lower than assumed revenues.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
26 days ago

Why do you keep bringing up affordable? My statement is there has been growth and will be growth.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
26 days ago

Reviewing all your points Ken I guess the one you are talking about is adding properties that will be below the average. Exactly how many affordable housing units do you think they would build?? Currently the additions in the many building projects are certainly not in the affordable class – the affordable projects are few and far between and I am aware a property owner may appeal MPAC – I was the one who brought up that point but I could not imagine the majority of the new housing presently going from $800,000 to over a million being appealed down below average.

Rob
28 days ago

And the hits just keep coming….

This Council, like the Federal government, may go down as one of the worst in my time. No push back on the budget. No hiring concessions. No review on the SWF issue. No fiscal accountability. Lack of CAO leadership and stewardship. Cleveland is concerned about the 30k in grants and job titles – what is wrong with this picture?

I couldn’t be more disappointed in this group…but I’m sure they will find a way to change that.

Bryan
Reply to  Rob
28 days ago

Rob,
Council passed a motion directing a max 5% levy increase. Staff came back with 10%
Council, except for a few members, sat on their hands, not challenging the 10%
I had hoped that the hiring priorities list that Council asked for would lead to the elimination of say the bottom half of the list. Didn’t happen.

Council paid no attention to the missing data in the budget, most notably the estimated $400K of non refundable HST, This is money paid out and has to be funded somehow. This adds an additional 1.4% to the 9.91% levy increase (total 11.3%).
Where is the Town to get the money?

The campground needs an estimated $1M to repair/upgrade the campground’s infrastructure: water, sewer, electrical, site leveling. The $1M capital expense is not included in the 2024 or future budgets.
The 2024 budget put $75K into the VPC reserve, but holds back $115K to offset (reduce) the levy.
If the $115K had been put into the VPC reserve, the levy would increase by $115K (0.4%), making the total levy increase 11.7%

This type of band-aid/scrimp strategy is how Cobourg and many other municipalities have allowed their infrastructure to decay until a crisis point is reached. Cobourg reached that point several years ago.

The Town’s stormwater infrastructure is seriously underfunded. The Town knew this and instead of owning up to it and increasing the levy by $1.6M (a $14% increase in the 2023 levy) chose a divide and conquer strategy (out of sight, out of mind) and created the SWM fee. This moved the funding from the levy to a “user fee” outside of the levy, thereby keeping the levy increase at about 8%.
We all know what a fiasco the SWM fee has become. A widely used military acronym sums it up well: S.N.A.F.U.

As the saying goes “pay now or pay later” For Cobourg, there is no “later”. Taxes are going up.

Last edited 28 days ago by Bryan
cornbread
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

Like I keep saying, but Council will not start the ball rolling…Get a quote from the OPP and slowly (with attrition) replace the Fire Dept. with Volunteers. The only way we will get tax levels vs. services back to normal for a town the size of Cobourg.

Leweez
Reply to  cornbread
28 days ago

Sell the Hydro company(Lakefront Utilities), like every other municipality has done!!

Bryan
Reply to  Leweez
28 days ago

Leweez,

What would selling LUI accomplish?
HOLDCO owns LUI, not the Town, so whatever money resulted would go to HOLDCO. Whether HOLDCO turned the money (some/all) over to the Town is another question.

If the Town got its hands on the cash, what are the odds that they would use it productively for the benefit of most of Cobourg residents as opposed to frittering it away of fluffy special interest group projects.

Other towns, PH for example, sold their electric company.
How has it helped them?
Did their rates go up?
Has their service improved? (or at least status quo)

Also check out Peterborough. They sold their electrical utility to Hydro One in 2018 (OEB approved in Apr 2020)

Leweez
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

Bryan we keep going around this circle.
The town owns Holdco, owns Lusi ,owns Lui and whatever other acronym they have made up.
As for your other questions I will say this, With Lusi our rates increased, our service has not improved(how many outages this year?)
How much of the debt has been paid back to the town of Cobourg from Holdco the last few years?

ben
Reply to  Leweez
26 days ago

Leweez do yourself a favour and scour the records for the financial returns to the Town from the original loan repayment and the dividends and you would have your answer. Millions came back over the last twenty years and much more would still keep coming if the taxfighters had not been successful in reducing the payout!

Leweez
Reply to  ben
26 days ago

I have followed this shell company Ben.
Didnt you have a lot of concerns about the running of this company and that is why you were removed from the Board of Directors?

Ben
Reply to  Leweez
26 days ago

I was not removed from the BoD just not asked to re-apply – a big difference. The reason being was that my idea of Cobourg Networks providing Townwide wifi and fibre coverage was not supported by the other Directors, they preferred to sell wholesale fibre to large customers rather than provide a public service.

Bryan
Reply to  ben
26 days ago

Ben,

You are correct that Holdco-LUI paid millions to the Town between 2000 and 2016. $16M+ in “loan” interest from LUI and HOLDCO dividends. The astute investors among you will know that HOLDCO has no active income, therefore HOLDCO’s revenue came from LUI and LUSI dividends.

All of this is a long way around to explain that the $16M+ came from the pockets of Cobourg residents. Had the Town been honest, utility fees could have been lower and Town property taxes higher. Staff was (still is??) using smoke and mirror tactics to hide the true cost of the Town’s services. (LUI interest, SWM fee)

You wrote: “and much more would still keep coming if the taxfighters had not been successful in reducing the payout!”

By taxfighters, I assume you mean the CTA. The CTA did nothing of the sort. What it did was participate as intervenors in the OEB-LUI rate hearings (2016, 2021). The intervenors included Energy Probe, VECC, NHH, school board, and others. Collectively, the intervenors pointed out errors in LUI’s costs/”bad” projects and negotiated cost revisions. The result was a reduction in LUI’s rate increase ask.

The CTA also pointed out in 2016 that LUI was having cash flow issues due in part, to the high (7.25%) interest on the $7M note being paid to the Town. The OEB had an allowable interest rate cap of about 3.5% which meant that about half of the interest was not allowed for rate setting purposes. LUI still had to pay the Town and the cash had to come from somewhere…..reduce dividends to HOLDCO.
The CTA suggested LUI negotiate a lower rate with the Town. This was ignored until 2022 when the Town agreed to lower the interest rate to the OEB’s interest rate cap. This is adjusted annually.

Kathleen
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

Hydro One should control our Rates. Straight from the source. No middle man.

Bryan
Reply to  Kathleen
28 days ago

Kathleen,
The OEB and Hydro One already control the electricity rates, not LUI. The electricity charges billed by LUI are pass thru from Hydro One. What LUI does charge for (OEB approved) is the delivery service.

Kathleen
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

Hydro One took over many Town’s and Cities Hydro facilitiea in the Mike Harris days. Not sure what Cobourg’s history is.
Just like Bell, Hydro One own the wires.
Can’t remember the Distribution charge when we lived in Toronto but I’m sure it was lower than here.
I stand by getting rid of LUCI

Last edited 28 days ago by Kathleen
Bryan
Reply to  Kathleen
27 days ago

Kathleen,
For clarity:
LUSI is not the electricity distribution company. That is LUI.

LUI holds the electricity distribution license and owns the distribution infrastructure (poles, transformers & wire).

LUSI employs the people that staff LUI, HOLDCO and the Town’s water system: WaterWorks. LUSI also runs a fiber-optic network system and the water system in Colborne.

Both LUI and LUSI are wholly owned subsidiaries of HOLDCO.

HOLDCO is 99.99% owned by the Town and .01% by Cramahe.

For rate comparison, see HOLDCO’s 2022 Annual Report

https://www.lakefrontutilities.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Lakefront-Utilities-Annual-Report-2022_web.pdf

For 2022, Cobourg was 6th lowest at $23.78 per month. Hydro One (Peterborough) was 4th at $22.62 per month. Toronto Hydro was not in the 10 lowest. Based on Toronto Hydro’s 2024 rate of $45.30, it’s to understandable why TH was not in the top 10 lowest in 2022.

Kathleen
Reply to  Bryan
28 days ago

Bryan, I watched the Council meeting on line. I couldn’t sleep for hours after the meeting was over… Your delegation (or talk) brought up some well-informed budget questions. And it was way over Council members heads. Either that, or they just plain don’t care.

I agree with paying Council Members a good salary. And for that well-paid position, they all need to understand budgeting and fiscal forecasting and be able to knowledgeably challenge staff and ask questions. We currently do not have that Council.

And thank you for mentioning the monotonous street sweeping. It seems to be the only service we get.

I’ll trade 6 street sweeps for one free bag of garbage.

Last edited 28 days ago by Kathleen
Bryan
Reply to  Kathleen
28 days ago

Kathleen,

By the time the budget came up, the gallery was empty: me and one other chap. It’s good to know that a few people watched online and hung in until the end.

My “talk” was not a delegation. It was a “speak”, I believe that is the new term.
The budget has numerous holes (missing or misleading data) and I mentioned just a few. See my correspondence to Council in the meeting minutes or on the CTA’s website under the resources tab.

As you note, Council members (most) seemed to not understand or care.
A sad state of affairs and certainly an abdication of their municipal act duty of oversight.

Last edited 28 days ago by Bryan
Concerned Taxpayer
28 days ago

Hiring Freeze – I think the Town of Cobourg should implement a hiring freeze for one to three years. We have to learn to do more with less. If an internal reorg or restructuring is required then use this time to do so. Everyone else has to tighten their belts and better manage their expenses so the least we can do is ask the Town and County to lead by example. Reducing areas of redundancy, capping the Police budget over the next 2-5 years, amalgamating roles and eliminating inefficient processes/positions would be a good place to start. We cannot continue to have year over year tax increases or Cobourg will become a ghost town as folks move out.

Sandpiper
28 days ago

Short of the fact its costing more to live in Cobourg with fewer and fewer services
than in much larger communities or in the Townships where there is No storm water Tax
Plus we have and are about to become
more exposed and are more likely to experienced encounters
with homeless and crime Like the recent Hatchet attack / robbery in broad day light on King st
Not to mention the New Homeless shelter Down Town ???? Unbelievable
What Can One Say about the Confused Leader Ship situation
Is there some thing Wrong with this picture ????