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Grey County aiming for 1% tax hike for 2014

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Grey County council has asked staff to prepare a budget for 2014 that will require a property tax hike of about 1%.

The direction came after council rejected an earlier motion that would have staff aim to not raise taxes at all.

Southgate Mayor Brian Milne said a flat-line budget, without service cuts, is an unrealistic target.

“To go to a 0%, something’s going to have to give,” he said Friday.

“Your payroll is going to increase if nothing else. So, in my mind, a 0% is unrealistic.”

He said the county already runs a “pretty tight ship, relatively.”

Kevin Weppler, the county’s director of finance, said staff prefers that council set a target before it begins drafting the following year’s budget.

The draft document will be presented to council this autumn, he said, with the goal to have it approved in November.

It’s too early to say if a 1% property tax hike can be achieved without reducing any county services, he said.

“I think we’re going to have to work at it, to be honest,” he said.

“A lot of our budget is made up of wages and benefits and some of those are contracts that have already been approved.”

Grey County council approved the 2013 budget last November with a tax hike of 0.74%.

The county levy is only one portion of a property owner’s tax bill.

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