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At Monday's Council meeting Cobourg's Fire Chief jumped the queue and was rewarded handsomely for turning the usual budget process upside down. At the last minute our Fire Chief added an item to Council's agenda to pre-approve spending $240,000 before any budget deliberations. Masquerading as "equity" for a female fireperson hired a year ago without consideration of how she could be accommodated, the spending is for renovations at the Cobourg Fire Station. The renovations involve adding a Personal Protective Equipment storage room, adding a new Gross Decontamination shower, reconstruction of the existing washroom / shower area and changes to the Duty Office to allow hiring of more firepersons. These changes are not critical to fire fighting in Cobourg and are probably far less important than items for other departments. They obviously should not bypass the entire budget process.

Some have trouble understanding large expenditures so comparisons with familiar items are useful. Consider that the approved $240,000 is 1% of total Cobourg property taxes and is more than the total taxes for 80 families, is about half the cost of the average Cobourg home even after recent price increases and is less than Council has chosen to spend on affordable housing.

With the pandemic many in Cobourg are fearful of their future; some have already lost their jobs. It is unconscionable that five Cobourg Councillors approved an expensive renovation that only benefits highly paid fire fighters before even considering our other needs!

Ken Strauss
Cobourg Resident