Community Engagement on Cobourg Budget Increased This Year

In City Hall

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Cobourg council heard, at Tuesday’s inaugural meeting of the Strategic Priorities and Policy standing committee, that citizen engagement going into the 2024 budget is up this year.

It was pointed out that this year’s engagement exercise, launched Dec. 15, drew 634 visitors, 492 of whom reviewed the information and 280 of whom went further and completed the survey.

That’s up from last year’s exercise, which drew 181 visitors, 111 of whom reviewed the information and 70 of whom actually completed the survey.

Information gained from the surveys indicated that about three-quarters of those responding did not have children under the age of 18 living in their household (and 13.5% did have adult children living with them). The biggest category of household income was the 22.1% who reported an income of $81,000 to $120,000.

Asked what services are most important, those reported most frequently were emergency services and preparedness, winter road maintenance, environmental services and sanitary collection, parks maintenance and library services.

Asked what services they felt needed more staffing or attention, they named bylaw enforcement, transit, waterfront, emergency services and preparedness, parks maintenance, roads, library, and community services and recreation.

Asked to rate value received for their tax dollars, 3% were extremely satisfied, 44.8% were satisfied, 36% were slightly dissatisfied, and 16% were very dissatisfied.

The survey was a chance to gauge response to specific ideas, such as a limited fixed route transit service pilot project that would cost $175,000. Respondents voted 47.8% in favour, with 27% saying no and 25% unsure.

Keeping the Centennial Pool open for another summer got 63% of respondents voting yes, 26.8% voting no and 10% unsure.

Looking further ahead, they were asked about $1.6-million in renovations needed to keep the pool in service (in addition to an estimated $138,000 in operational costs). A majority 58.7% voted yes, 31.2% voted no and 10% were unsure.

The idea of a 1% dedicated infrastructure surcharge being added to the tax bill revealed growing support for the idea. Some 41% of respondents said yes (compared to 28% in 2023), 33.7% said no (up from 14% in 2023) and 25% are unsure (compared to 57% who said last year they needed more information).

Councillor Randy Barber was very impressed by this last figure, while Councillor Miriam Mutton noted that only 10% of responding households had annual incomes of less than $80,000.

“That is something I will keep in mind,” Mutton said.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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