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The 2022 draft budget currently shows an approximate 10% increase to the tax levy. Council has difficult decisions to make prioritizing the items in the budgeted spending. It is a difficult and momentous task. I thank you for your hard work and dedication on this.

I ask that Council put people first during your budget review. People matter and your decisions need to reflect their impact on those who are most vulnerable.

Here are some observations and suggestions that may help in the process.

With so many people struggling with increasing costs, a tax increase will make it more challenging for many, especially seniors and low-income residents, to survive. Council has the ability to have the most effect on peoples’ lives. I urge you to focus on prioritizing those items that help those most at risk to survive. Let people know that their well-being is important to you.

Improving affordable housing is one area that Council has been trying to attain with limited success. Council can help the most people who are having difficulty with affordable housing by not increasing taxes. Increasing taxes will only put landlords in the position of raising rents even further and making home ownership even more impossible for people. The other levels of government need to make significant policy changes on affordable housing. Council should focus on where they can directly have the most positive effect on people’s lives.

Although all budget items are important, Council should spend their valuable time on the larger expenditures to achieve a budget that is affordable.

The Cobourg Community Centre (CCC) is one of our most expensive assets. Although the CCC is very important to our community, the 2022 expenditures showing a net increase of $133k or 11% should not be a priority item when so many people are struggling to pay their rent or food bills. I urge Council to spend their valued time determining how to eliminate any increase and to further reduce the CCC expenditures.

Another significant area is salaries. For 2021, budgeted salaries are $7.8M and the organizational review has recommended adding another $1.4M, an 18% increase in salaries.

The comparison showing that our staffing levels are generally consistent with, or lower than, selected comparator municipalities, does not mean we should be hiring more people. You should commend yourselves and our senior town personnel for being more efficient and not overstaffed like other municipalities.

Hiring twelve new people is unlikely to improve the service level whereby most of us will not notice a difference, other than that our taxes have increased. Let the residents decide if we need to hire all these new people.

I am requesting that Council defer all new hiring outlined in the KPMG Organizational Review until after the next election. For such significant spending that will continue into the future, let the people decide at election time if they are willing to pay these higher costs every year.

Thank you for listening

Dennis Nabieszko
Cobourg Resident

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