Grey County has set its budget for 2023 and it will include a 1.48 per cent increase to the tax levy.
County council held a day long budget meeting on Jan. 27 that concluded with county council giving its thumbs up to the budget numbers.
The first draft of the county budget forecasted a 3.66 per cent increase, however county council immediately sent that version back to staff and asked for reductions to limit the increase to 1.49 per cent (or $1 million in real dollars).
At the Jan. 27 meeting, county staff returned with a package of spending cuts and reserve transfers that met council’s goal of 1.49 per cent. Full details of the changes made by staff can be found here.
The meeting featured each county department making a brief presentation to council about its budget highlights and upcoming projects. At the end of the proceedings, county council had made cosmetic changes to the budget. They reduced the cost of living increase for county councillor salaries from 5.9 per cent to 1.49 per cent, which saved $22,400 in spending. Subsequently, council added $16,000 to the budget for staff training and conference. The net result was $6,400 in savings.
The budget will see the county tax levy grow from $65,359,000 in 2022 to $67,939,100 in 2023. The increase of $2,580,100 is being offset by $1,591,700 in revenue from new assessment growth. The initial tax increase from staff was $1 million, which was later reduced by council to $993,600.
“Congratulations. We now have a budget in front of us for the next year,” said Warden Brian Milne after council approved the budget.
Grey Highlands mayor Paul McQueen said he was pleased with the overall result of the budget deliberations.
“We came here with an idea of cutting the budget and we accomplished that,” said McQueen, who praised staff for their efforts to meet council’s mandate to lower the initial 3.66 per cent increase. “It’s a win-win situation. A 1.48 per cent increase gives us wiggle room at the tower tier level.”
The Blue Mountains Mayor Andrea Matrosovs, a new member of county council, was happy with the budget results and process.
“It’s been good to go through process for the first time sitting at the county council table,” said Matrosovs, who said she learned a lot about the services the county provides to the community after the various staff presentations. “I am pleased with what (the budget) is going to save the taxpayers.”