By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Cobourg council’s long series of budget deliberations was generously peppered with 6-1 votes, with Mayor Lucas Cleveland casting the only dissenting vote.
That pattern held at this week’s council meeting at the vote on the final version of the 2023 budget, which represents an 8.1% increase over 2022 but (after allowing for New Assessment Growth of 1.5%) works out to a 6.6% net increase on taxpayers’ bills.
“As Mayor of Cobourg, I would like to voice my opposition to this budget,” Cleveland stated.
He said he was elected on the promise of change and thinking outside the box. He had asked staffers and councillors to put on their thinking caps to see if they could get the tax increase down to the 5% range, and he commended their hard work.
Members of the public, on the other hand, seemed to be asking for more services and lower taxes. What they got in this budget is some version of holding the line on services which, long-term, cannot be sustained without eventually raising taxes.
Councillor Adam Bureau thought council had worked hard and come up with an innovative budget that – for example – came up with a way to provide skateboard ramps and pickleball courts that are not reflected in this year’s capital costs.
“I honestly think we did a great job,” Bureau said.
“I think the staff outdid themselves and came up with a 6.6% (increase).”
In the face of inflation that is raising costs for everything, he added, “I think that was absolutely amazing, and I 100% support this budget.”